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Henrik Ibsen

Unconventional 'A Master Builder' is an odd success

Unconventional 'A Master Builder' is an odd success

The Jonathan Demme film "A Master Builder" will likely appeal more to theater people than to film people, it being Henrik Ibsen and all, as adapted by and starring Wallace Shawn. He plays one of Ibsen's most formidable train wrecks, the tetchy, egomaniacal and largely autobiographical architect Halvard Solness.

But many appreciate both media, and the way the movies and the stage can carry on a conversation. At any rate some filmed plays are more like certain concert films, low on bombast and high on performance skill, such as the ones Demme has made across several decades.

In the conversational style of "Vanya on 42nd Street" — Demme opens "A Master...