Mansion by the Lake (2003)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Family Drama  |   Run Time - 109 min.  |   Countries - Sri Lanka   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Josh Ralske

Mansion by the Lake is a visually impressive, but dramatically inert, melodrama that doesn't do justice to the complex characterizations and rich period detail of its source, Anton Chekhov's +The Cherry Orchard. The slow-moving film is not helped by inadequate technical credits, especially the poor dubbing and sound mix, which renders background noises such as footfalls unnecessarily distracting. Writer/director Lester James Peries often seems to be reimagining Chekhov's play as a Sri Lankan soap opera with melodramatic musical cues and flashbacks. The film is well-shot with lovely locations, but it lacks emotional resonance, and Peries creates a villain out of Lucas (Ravindra Randeniya), a character who should be more sympathetic. While Chekhov never intended his play to be a tragedy, Peries plays up the plight of Sujata (Malini Fonseka) and her aristocratic family, allowing little room for wry wit or the emergence of the underlying social themes of the source work. The film is adequately performed, but stiffly staged, and it drags along, never developing much narrative momentum.