Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov (A Slave of Love) has often aspired to a Chekhovian tone; here he has some genuine (though minor) Chekhov material to deal with, but the real qualities of Chekhov elude him again. Against the background of a prerevolutionary country estate, Mikhalkov choreographs the romantic peregrinations of a group of lovably befuddled aristocrats and ambitious bourgeois; the dance concludes on the expected note of bittersweet disillusionment, but without touching the dark feelings fundamental to Chekhov's comedy. The relentlessly pretty cinematography suggests an urge for precious self-deception on Mikhalkov's part as strong as any of his characters' (1976). 100 min.
By Dave Kehr