Chekhov's play submits to a slow, underwhelming adaptation. 1900: a time of social transition in Russia, from feudal past to industrial future. Having been abandoned by her lover, Mme Ranyevskaya (Rampling) returns from Paris, where she fled five years before after the death of her husband and son. Highly strung and melancholic, she's unwilling to confront the reality that the debt ridden family estate will soon be sold at auction. Instead, she spends time reminiscing with her feckless brother Gaev (Bates) about happier days, while her uptight foster-daughter Varya (Cartlidge) continues to run the household as the auction approaches. Despite the auspicious cast and a persuasive period look, Cacoyannis' film doesn't engage, with a lack of momentum or cohesion between scenes constantly distancing the viewer.