Lawrence O'Toole
September 13, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

August is the third movie containing elements of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya that has shown up on video during the past year, the other two being set in Australia and a 42nd Street theater. This time Anthony Hopkins directed, starred, and composed the music, doing a creditable job in all departments. But yet another filmic adaptation of the Russian playwright’s masterful meditation on the elusiveness of happiness among a diverse group of people at a country estate seems unnecessary. Hopkins does bring a shimmering visual quality and wispy impressionistic sound to the story that are as elegiac as autumn leaves. And the transfer of the setting to England merely goes to show that wistful misery knows no national boundaries. B-

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