ANTON CHEKHOV'S THE DUEL
In 19th century Russia, n'er do well aristocrat now a lazy and inept public servant Laevsky (Andrew Scott) has seduced the married Nadya (Fiona Glascott), who has left her husband and moved with him to a plot of land at a seaside resort on the Black Sea in the Caucasus,. But when Laevsky learns that her husband has died, he keeps this news from her as he is doesn't truly love her, and would not want her to ask him to marry. His card playing debts mounting, Laevsky neglects Nadya, who has affairs - notably with the insistent Capt. Kirilin (Tobias Menzies).
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There's always a sense of dislocation and lack of authenticity to a film when the settings and the culture clash with the spoken language; actors speaking English in 19th century Russia is a case in point. The 'alien' speech mannerisms and cadences jar. But once you get used to this distraction, the handsome production takes on its own sensibilities, and takes us into some gorgeous Georgian countryside.
The Russian literary giant Chekhov sprinkles philosophy amidst the intimate details of mediocre lives as he explores a corroded relationship between a rather unlikable man with below average strength of character and a woman who has betrayed her husband. But of course the social constraints that put a woman at such a disadvantage in 19th century Russia seem irrelevant to 21st century Australia. On the other hand, the moral and character issues are relevant; does the unprincipled Laevsky (Andrew Scott) have a moral responsibility for Nadya (Fiona Glascott), even now he has fallen out of lust with her? What of her moral responsibilities?
As in many Russian works of fiction (and of fact) there are quite a few people who are miserable, so it's often a question of how interested audiences are in the characters at hand.
Laevsky's misery turns into something more debilitating, a kind of mental breakdown which sends him into a rage at one point, insulting his friends and triggering the scenario for a pistol duel. This is a strikingly shot and beautifully staged scene in a large riverside cavern with a waterfall to one side, with unexpected consequences.
Email this article
ANTON CHEKHOV'S THE DUEL (PG)
CAST: Andrew Scott, Fiona Glascott, Tobias Menzies, Niall Buggy, Nicholas Rowe, Michelle Fairley
PRODUCER: Mary Bing, Donald Rosenfeld
DIRECTOR: Dover Koshashvili
SCRIPT: Mary Bing (novel by Anton Chekhov)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Paul Sarossy
EDITOR: Kate Williams
MUSIC: Angelo Milli
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ivo Husnjak
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 7, 2012
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.