Poor Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. Like Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams, it’s hard to find a production of his plays anywhere today, even Off Broadway or on high school stages where “Grease” is considered art.

But here the great Anton’s “The Seagull” has found a soft landing in the hands of director Michael Mayer, who brings us his film version of Anton’s wonderful comic-tragedy “The Seagull.” As usual in Hollywood, they’ve sweetened the tea by filling the parts with a variety of interesting actors. Take a sip; you’ll like it.

In scene after scene, room after room, it’s hard to know where to look or whom to look at without bumping into a great performance from one unexpected star after another.

Consider first Elisabeth Moss from “Mad Men” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” dipping her toe into the classics as Chekhov’s Masha — the craziest, funniest character he’s ever created who favors Donna Karan black everything, cries incessantly and slams doors on everyone who loves her, shouting “Go Away!” It’s Moss’s best work ever. It’s her scene with Trigorin when she almost walks away with the film.

Annette Bening floats in as Irina, the aging coquette and Moscow actress, warming all as the candle around which all others revolve. Bening rises in stature with every new role she grabs.

Do you know Corey Stoll? Of course you don’t. But you will. Corey is an acquired taste, as he slides sideways into all of his characters and takes possession of them scene by scene. He is one of film land’s great underrated actors (“House of Cards,” “The Strain”). Here he plays Boris Trigorin, the writer who is at the center of this. Chekhov himself?

Brian Dennehy as Sorin, Irina’s dying brother, has little to do but does it at the top of his game.

Oh dear. Is this Saoirse Ronan as Nina, the housekeeper’s daughter? Indeed it is and paired once again with Billy Howle. But this time, it’s a much better pairing — better parts for both and a greater part for Howle.

The characters and plot remain historically grounded: Irina Arkadina, (Bening) approaching her dotage rapidly, comes each summer to visit her constantly dying brother (Dennehy) at his country home, where she has stashed her struggling playwright son Konstantin (Howle) and left him penniless.

But this summer, Irina pokes at the moldy status quo by bringing her lover, a dashing and successful Russian novelist.

One by one, Chekhov’s fabulous characters pop in and out of the dacha — most gloriously Nina, who these past summers has been playing with the heart of Konstantin.

But now of course, Nina is besotted by the seductive author. Didn’t you know this was going to happen? Trigorin, feeling his age, considers the teenage Nina his last chance in life. They do have a great rowboat scene.

This, of course, breaks the fragile Konstantin’s heart, and then a gun appears and a seagull flying over the golden fields crashes to earth, and I’ll say no more, because this is Chekhov, who offers so much to see, to hear, suffer and weep over.

Charm floats like dandelion wisps on the air. This is Russia of the 19th Century, cluttered with samovars, wonderful carpets and tea sets. Relax, there are no nuclear weapons in the grass, no KGB in the closets.

Remember “Dr. Zhivago?” Well, this is kind of like Zhivago without the war, snow and sunflowers, and with a few more laughs.

What makes this worth your time and money is watching these modernists ply their trade. You’ll enjoy this incredible gang of Hollywood and European actors who have been dying to get their hands around a Chekhov character.

Each one of them glows brightly and contributes to the final group picture. But in the end, it will be Ronin’s mesmerizing final moments that will make the picture hers and turn the movie to gold. What a future this young woman has.

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and film actor.

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