Plodding, slight romance ghosted with such serious elements as Nazis, communists and death makes for a weird trip through beautiful Prague. Femme viewers looking for a foreign affair better cash in their plane tickets.
Gina Gershon is lovely Dr. Lauren Graham, a child psychiatrist who’s in Prague at a professional confab. While sightseeing in the city, she bumps into Jiri (Rade Serbedzija), a sexy, middle-aged, high-profile writer — a al Milan Kundera. The pair immediately fall in love — real kids’ stuff or terribly romantic, depending on your point of view — as he escorts her around the city. After about a week, they decide to get married.
Then nothing much happens for 45 minutes. But Lauren, who has blown off her professional commitments back at the U. of Michigan to stay with Jiri, declares that she wants to find her Czech roots — her grandfather was a Czech immigrant. She doesn’t come up with much. But Jiri’s father is shown a Graham family photo, and recognizes the grandpa as a Nazi collaborator.
This info puts a big damper on their wedding plans, not to mention their relationship.
But like all love stories, this one has a happy, albeit ambiguous, ending.
Script by Sheryl Longin and Roger L. Simon at first wants to be an agreeable romance in a fairly exotic setting, but the heavy issues it tries to explore are forced, and eventually trivialized. Simon’s helming is sometimes sloppy, and each scene looks as if three seconds were trimmed from the end, leaving “Duet” with a jerky, unfinished quality that is disconcerting.
Gershon and Serbedzija make a nice couple, and Serbedzija is believable as the former dissident writer.
Also, kudos to cinematographer Ivan Slapeta, who turns an autumn and winter Prague into a thing of beauty. Rest of tech credits are pro.