×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Anton Chekhov’s The Duel

Dover Kosashvili's costumer offers surroundings so vibrant that tragedy seems an indulgence.

With:
With: Andrew Scott, Fiona Glascott, Tobias Menzies, Niall Buggy, Michelle Fairley, Nicholas Rowe, Jeremy Swift, Rik Makarem, Mislav Cavajda.

Chekhov casts a magical spell over Russian filmmakers, inspiring them to ever greater cinematic heights. Apparently this alchemy applies even to a Georgia-born, Israel-raised helmer shooting an English-language version of a Chekhov novella with mostly Irish actors in Croatia. But unlike most other adaptations, which are tinged with melancholy, Dover Kosashvili’s glorious costumer “Anton Chekhov’s The Duel,” while remaining faithful to its source, places its febrile “Moscow Hamlet” in surroundings so vibrant that tragedy seems an indulgence. Preeming today at Gotham’s Film Forum, this worthy follow-up to Kosashvili’s brilliant “Late Marriage” should delight auds worldwide.

Laevsky (Andrew Scott), a young aristocrat, has run away to the Caucuses with his married mistress Nadya (Fiona Glascott), dreaming of a meaningful existence working the land. Instead, he wiles away his days drinking, gambling and lying about, occasionally stirring to sign some papers in his nominal role as government employee. Beautiful, intellectual Nadya, shunned by society and prone to fevers, runs up debts with local merchants and coyly flirts to keep doubts at bay.

But events close in on the couple. Learning Nadya’s husband has died, making marriage to her feasible, Laevsky panics, desperate to flee, though she would be left penniless. Meanwhile, Nadya’s flirtations have come back to haunt her. In one of pic’s few indoor social gatherings, her demanding swains physically hem her in on all sides while Laevsky, prey to his own demons, delivers a sobbing, barking emotional meltdown.

Laevsky’s inbred neurotic sensibility enrages the protofascist rationalism of visiting zoologist Von Koren (Tobias Menzies). Judging Laevsky’s very being to constitute a menace to the survival of the species, Von Koren finagles him into a duel that will radically transform all those involved.

Kosashvili invests his characters with a level of awareness and an inherent integrity they do not always live up to, framing them amid a natural splendor to which they are only intermittently attuned. (Even Laevsky’s slovenly kept house opens onto a garden, and the climactic duel transpires against a magnificent oceanside grotto.) Laevsky’s hysteria stems partly from regret over his indolence and cowardice; similarly, Nadya’s coquettish narcissism registers as a self-defeating revolt against powerlessness.

But the protagonists’ melodramatic obsessions occupy a relatively narrow field on a much larger canvas. Von Koren’s triumphant catch of an octopus sets a nearby trio of sunbathing girls shuddering and giggling. White-uniformed soldiers smartly parade down the streets, and children weave freely in and out among their elders. The good doctor Samoylenko (Niall Buggy), who plays a crucial role in the ongoing drama, is seen happily chopping vegetables in his kitchen. All is ready for the final epiphany.

Thesps form a perfectly self-contained ensemble in their isolated community, with major and minor roles given balanced prominence.

Tech credits are superb, from Atom Egoyan regular Paul Sarossy’s magisterial lensing to Ivo Husnjak’s evocative production design and Sergio Ballo’s elegant, understated costuming.

Anton Chekhov's The Duel

Production: A Flux Films/High Line Pictures presentation in association with Mainframe Prods. of a Flux Films/High Line Pictures production. Produced by Donald Rosenfeld, Mary Bing. Co-producers, Per Melita, Igor A. Nola, Susa Horvat. Directed by Dover Kosashvili. Screenplay, Mary Bing, based on the novella by Anton Chekhov.

Crew: Camera (color), Paul Sarossy; editor, Kate Williams; music, Angelo Milli; production designer, Ivo Husnjak; costume designer, Sergio Ballo; sound (Dolby Digital), Stjepan Stef Suskovic; supervising sound editor, Tony Martinez; casting, Joyce Nettles. Reviewed at Broadway screening room, New York, April 21, 2010. Running time: 94 MIN.

With: With: Andrew Scott, Fiona Glascott, Tobias Menzies, Niall Buggy, Michelle Fairley, Nicholas Rowe, Jeremy Swift, Rik Makarem, Mislav Cavajda.

More Film

  • Jillian Bell appears in Brittany Runs

    Amazon's 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' Sets Summer Release

    “Brittany Runs a Marathon” will be rushing to theaters on Aug. 23. Amazon Studios dated the comedy on Wednesday. The pic, starring Jillian Bell (“Rough Night,” “22 Jump Street”), won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. The flick follows the titutal Brittany, who decides to run around New York City in order to [...]

  • Lionsgate Hires Lynn Whitney in Marketing

    Lionsgate Hires Former Warner Bros. Exec Lynn Whitney

    Lionsgate announced Wednesday that Lynn Whitney will become head of worldwide paid media, partnerships, promotions and consumer products. Whitney was formerly the executive VP of worldwide media at Warner Bros.   In her new role, Whitney will build out media campaigns for movies like Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron’s romantic comedy “Long Shot.” “I am [...]

  • El silencio de otros

    Film Review: 'The Silence of Others'

    “Forgiven but not forgotten” is a platitude we routinely use to end disputes both petty and grievous, but it’s the reverse outcome — the mass forgetting of crimes and conflicts never truly resolved — that itches away at a post-Franco Spain in “The Silence of Others.” Soberly chronicling the ongoing legal battle of General Franco’s [...]

  • A Womans Work-The NFLs Cheerleader Problem

    Tribeca Documentaries Explore Gender Issues in Sport

    Up until recently, what it meant to be a professional female athlete in a world dominated by men wasn’t an issue that garnered high volumes of public interest, let alone national headlines. But that all changed in October 2017 when stories from the New York Times and the New Yorker detailing sexual allegations and improper [...]

  • Lizzo Coachella Valley Music and Arts

    Lizzo Joins Cardi B and Jennifer Lopez in Stripper Film 'Hustlers'

    After the release of her third album and a pair of high-profile Coachella performances, Lizzo announced today that she will be joining Cardi B and Jennifer Lopez in the stripper-themed film “Hustlers.” Based on a true story, the film focuses on strippers who band together to turn the tables on their wealthy Wall Street male [...]

  • Ralph Fiennes attends a special screening

    Ralph Fiennes on Directing Rudolf Nureyev Biopic: 'It's Been a Very, Very Long Road'

    Ralph Fiennes celebrated his latest directorial outing, “The White Crow,” on Monday night in New York City. The Sony Pictures Classics film tells the story of legendary dancer Rudolf Nureyev. “It’s been a very, very long road. We were mad. We were mad to take on this subject of Rudolf Nureyev. Mad. Completely mad,” Fiennes [...]

  • Marc Malkin The Big Ticket Podcast

    Variety, iHeartMedia Launch New Film Podcast 'The Big Ticket' With Marc Malkin

    Variety and iHeartMedia have announced the premiere of “The Big Ticket,” a new weekly film-focused podcast hosted by Marc Malkin, the magazine’s senior film awards and events & lifestyle editor. The podcast will feature sit-down interviews with Hollywood’s hottest stars and filmmakers talking movies, the business and more. New episodes will be released every Thursday [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content