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The Luzhin Defence: Set in the late 1920s, The Luzhin Defence tells the story of a shambling, unworldly chess Grand Master who arrives in the Italian Lakes to play the match of his life and unexpectedly finds the love of his life. Discovering his prodigious talent in boyhood overshadowed by his parents' failing marriage, Luzhin's lyrical passion for chess has become his refuge and rendered the real world a phantom. Already matched up by her family to the very suitable Comte de Stassard, when Natalia meets Luzhin, she is drawn to the erratic genius and offers him a glimpse outside of his chess obsession. But it is a world he is not equipped to deal with and his two worlds collide to tragic effect.

  • Currently 3.06/5
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Ratings: IMDB: 7.0/10 Metascore: 64% RT: 58%
Released: August 21, 2000
Runtime: 109 mins
Genres: Drama Romance
Countries: UK France
Director: Marleen Gorris
Actors: Alfredo Pea Antonio Carli Christopher Thompson Emily Watson Fabio Sartor Geraldine James Geza Schramek John Turturro Kelly Hunter Luigi Petrucci Mark Tandy Massimo Sarchielli Orla Brady Peter Blythe Stuart Wilson

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The Luzhin Defence Comments

Posted by Caravel 8 years ago
+2 | +2 / -0

Posted by Caravel 8 years ago
+1 | +2 / -1

Granted, Nabakov's book is very cerebral and driven by the inner turmoil of Luzhin's mind. Translating such mental dynamism to a movie would be very difficult. Alternately, the approach taken by the film seems like it could have worked on its own level, and one has to wonder why it was allowed to fail. My guess is that there was pressure to cut this movie down to a shorter length, perhaps figuring that audiences could only take so much of the tortured main character's wailings. There are numerous instances of poorly done cuts (not in keeping with the rest of the film) where scenes look as if they were chopped short in mid-stride, as if to get to the end faster. I don't mean to be flip here either, but there are such significant gaps in character development that one has to imagine that the released film is not what the directors and writers had in mind. As a result, we never appreciate fully either the nature of Luzhin's inner torment, or the motivations of the villainous Valentinov (who is just so cruel that his motivations demand some fleshing out). The sentimental ending (which predictably is not based on novel) fits in awkwardly with the rest of the film, though it does at least fit. Considering the movie's terse treatment of its characters, the more pointed ending supplied by Nabakov would have come off as unsatisfying and hollow.

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