Mansion By The Lake

Mansion By The Lake

**

Reviewed by: Trinity

After spending five years in London, widower Sujata returns with her daughter Aruni to the family mansion.

"In this house", she says, "I found my greatest happiness and my greatest tragedy."

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On the surface, nothing has changed, but underneath all is not well. The memories of her younger son, drowned in the nearby lake, and a mountain of debt come back to haunt her. Soon she risks losing her house and her status to Lucas, the son of one of her ex-employees, now a successful businessman. In addition, Aruni discovers she has feelings for the handsome activist Keerthi, whose political beliefs appear to be destroying the very lifestyle that they have always known. Will the family and the house, home to many generations, survive?

Veteran Sri Lankan director Lester James Peries has taken Chekov's The Cherry Orchard and transposed it to this elegant study of the death of the class system in his home country. Set entirely within the ornate mansion and surrounding grounds, it explores the meaning of family and the support it provides.

Unfortunately, it does so in a way that is too sedate even for a drama such as this. Each scene seems to be played out a bit too much: not languid, but interminable. Plus, we do not really feel for the characters; it is only in the end that Sujata realises she has abandoned her daughter, her niece Sita and her younger brother Gunapalaas. Even so, she is unable to come to terms with the loss of her status.

There is no passion in the piece, no spark and often we have sequences which do not move the film on in any way. Ultimately, a potentially interesting adaptation wasted.

Reviewed on: 20 Aug 2003
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Chekov transposed to the failing aristocratic classes of Sri Lanka.

Festivals:

EIFF 2003

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