This version of Anne of Green Gables was absolutely dire. Where do I begin? Right off the bat, when I knew I was doomed to disappointment, Martin Sheen playing the soulful shy Matthew as if he was some kind of slapstick comic. Yakitty Yakkity Yak to his horse, and then falling face first into a mud puddle. SMH. Too bad, because the scene on the train was actually quite promising. I thought Martin Sheen was a good actor and was willing to give him a chance, but this was disgraceful. It was probably the direction.
The young actress who played Anne, delivered her lines. Period. Whenever a line came close to echoing a line Megan Follows said, the contrast would have been laughable if it weren’t so inept. One of the pivotal comic scenes, (Anne’s “apology” to Rachel after her rude behavior) took place in a wide shot and without audible dialogue. It was probably a mercy. She wasn’t helped by the freckles put on with a pencil that kept appearing and disappearing, and that dye job on her hair! When she got into the sunlight, it looked like something a cheap tart would do to her hair. Again, probably the direction rather than the young actresses fault.
Any production has a tough row to hoe to even come close to the perfection that was The Sullivan Production. That whole cast was perfection itself and truly inhabited their roles. I won’t talk about the lack of depth. The whole Minnie May episode, I swear, clocked in at under a minute and that included the reconciliation scene. And “Matthew” continually on the verge of a heart attack. I guess stay tuned for the next installment. The Actor who played Gilbert looked younger than Anne and came across as a bratty little brother. The actress who played Marilla actually was not bad, though not the same character that Colleen Dewhurst interpreted. And Rachel was also excellent. The little actress who played Diana was a bright spot, as little screen time as she had. Again, no depth. And miscasting. She should have played Anne. There will probably be a second installment to this as many of the key scenes were left out entirely (no Lily Maid of Astalot. No Miss Stacy.) If they recast an older Anne and Gilbert, and kill Matthew off quickly, it might have a chance to be half-way decent.
There is hope. The early 1930’s version with Dawn O’Day (Anne Shirley), Tom Brown, and Helen Westley was a wonder and showed that you could convey the charm of this story in 78 minutes flat, and even manage to include a satisfying romance between Anne and Gilbert. **2 stars out of 10**
November 25, 2016