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The Luzhin Defence Review


Very Good
Early on in the period drama The Luzhin Defence, Emily Watson's Natalia proclaims that she wants something different, and that's just what we get through most of this adaptation, based on Vladimir Nabokov's novel of chess and madness. But as acclaimed director Marleen Gorris (Mrs. Dalloway) takes us toward the vital final act, that sense of originality seems to fade.

Luckily, we are saved throughout by Watson's performance. As a woman vacationing with her pesky mother in 1920s Italy, she stumbles upon eccentric, pained, chess genius Alexander Luzhin, or more accurately, he stumbles upon her. Luzhin, played by a solid and risk-taking John Turturro, is disheveled and awkward, the kind of absent-minded obsessive that draws stares of both scorn and jealousy. Watson and Turturro, both at the top of their talents, create a sort of Romeo and Juliet -- he's reckless and unkempt, she's proper and well-mannered.

Continue reading: The Luzhin Defence Review

The Luzhin Defence Review


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John Turturro is all about idiosyncrasies in "The Luzhin Defence," an adaptation of a Vladimir Nobokov novel in which the actor plays a brilliant 1920s chess grand master whose strict, sometimes cruel upbringing has left him an erratic social misfit.

Deeply submerged in his character, he walks like he's forever in the middle of trying to prevent a stumble. Reflected in his busy eyes is the fact that his mind is compulsively darting and dashing about. And he's a man who lacks certain social graces -- like getting a girl's name before he proposes marriage to her.

Visiting a lakeside resort chateau in northern Italy for a championship chess tournament, Alexander Luzhin (Turturro) finds himself distracted by a beautiful Russian heiress named Natalia (Emily Watson), on holiday with her persnickety bluenosed parents. Unable to get her out of his mind after one brief encounter and not adept at social interaction, Luzhin approaches her out of the blue, while she's in the middle of playing tennis, to burst out his proposal.

Continue reading: The Luzhin Defence Review

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Alexander Hunting Movies

The Luzhin Defence Movie Review

The Luzhin Defence Movie Review

Early on in the period drama The Luzhin Defence, Emily Watson's Natalia proclaims that she...

The Luzhin Defence Movie Review

The Luzhin Defence Movie Review

John Turturro is all about idiosyncrasies in "The Luzhin Defence," an adaptation of a Vladimir...

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