Elizabeth (Allison Janney) is a mega movie star who is taking her successful movie producer, Peter (Christian Camargo) to her lakeside estate to meet her family for the weekend. It opens with the couple at the train station and Elizabeth is complaining to Peter about taking the train to the lakeside instead of another form of transportation. Peter’s reasoning for taking the train is that he won’t have to listen to her complaining and they can travel in complete silence. Peter is introverted and to himself while Elizabeth’s personality is larger than life.
At the lakeside, Elizabeth’s family includes her brother (William Hurt), her son Eric who is aspiring to be a filmmaker (Ben Whishaw), his muse Ava (Juilet Rylance), the family doctor (Jean Reno), the caretaker of the estate (Russell Means), the other caretaker (Michael Nyqvist), his wife (Cherry Jones), their daughter (Katie Holmes), and her husband (Mark Rylance). Most of the characters in the film are dealing with a deep battle within themselves. They spend all of their time on the lakeside and never get to experience life outside of the lake. Elizabeth is the only one who left her life at the lakeside and followed her dreams.
Eric is trying to do the same but he’s very insecure and depressed. Elizabeth leaving the lake and not having a strong relationship with him weights down on how he feels towards her. She is his biggest critic and he doesn’t take her criticism as constructive but more so detrimental. Eric begins to fall for Ava and she becomes his inspiration but an awful change in events separates them forever and leads Eric to do the unthinkable. This isn’t an ordinary film. The film really made us think. It was very well written and it had some sly humor. If you’re looking for an extraordinary film and not the usual love story or comedy, this film is strongly recommended.
We had the opportunity to attend the New York premiere where the cast participated in a Q&A after the screening. Read some highlights below:
Christian, how did this cast come together?
Katie and I had done a play together so I knew her, and I’ve known a couple of the actors, Juliet as well I knew her already. We were heavily in our casting directing and we sort of started with this incredible wish list of actors, as I think every filmmaker does, that we would like to go for and we kind of shot for the stars. We said, “Well you know Cherry Jones would be really wonderful but she’ll never do it” or, “Allison Janney she would be lovely”. For some reason, I think it was the stars of the universe saying, “Yeah this is the right time” and they all started saying, “yes” so that sort of made us go, “Oh God we have to do this now” so it just happened that way. But it is a tricky balance when you’re making a film you have to have a certain amount of talent to actually finish raising the money and that whole dance that you do. It sort of happened seamlessly for a bunch of people who had never done this before. That’s another thing we’ve never done this before.
Cherry, why did you say yes?
I love Chekhov and I never read an American adaptation of Chekhov that brought it into a whole other universe before. It maintained that bizarre corkiness of Chekhov and that drama and then I heard it was going to be on a body of water and that Mark Rylance and Jean Reno were going to get to share a house on another body of water then I was in! But it was the most extraordinary experience. It rained like a son of b****!
Juliet, what drew you to the character in the film?
I didn’t really have a choice. I didn’t have time to think about the character I was playing because we were so busy. There was little time to think. It was fantastic for me to be too busy to think.
Christian, what spoke to you about this play and how did you feel so confident to pull something like this off?
I didn’t feel confident at all. I just needed to surround myself around a really good team. I needed to be able to rely heavily on my artistic team. Just surround myself as high quality as possible. The reason why I choose this material really was because that was my comfort zone believe it or not. I grew up in the theatre really, I been an actor for almost 15 years and The Seagull is prominent play that I responded to in drama school to the point where I was obsessed with it. From that I realized how amazing Chekhov was in his time and he wrote in such a visual way.
“Days And Nights” is now playing at the IFC Center and available on demand.