FLICKS.CO.NZ

REVIEW: 'The Duel'

REVIEW: 'The Duel'

3 stars


Period drama based on Chekhov's 1891 novella. Now playing nationwide, click for movie times.
--------------------------------------------------

This austere adaptation of the Chekov novella starts of slow but builds gradually into a captivating tale of escalating mania.

Irish actor Andrew Scott (probably best known for his turn as Moriarty in the stellar Sherlock TV mini-series) has fun revelling in the petulant awfulness of his lead character Laevsky, a spolit aristocrat content to drink and gamble life away in his seaside government posting. Laevsky has grown tired of the woman (Fiona Glascott, projecting fair-skinned radiance) he wooed away from a marriage to another man, and is attempting to extricate himself from his situation.

As his un-chivalrous actions raise the ire of a zoologist (Tobias Menzies), leading to the inevitable titular showdown, they too tested my patience. I suppose it's kind of the point of the story, but it's tough to get too enthusiastic about a film when the protagonist is a colossal prick.

The Croatian locations on the other hand, are absolutely magical, lending the film a serene otherworldliness. And it's a real treat to see Young Sherlock Holmes himself, Nicholas Rowe, relishing a supporting role as one of Laevsky's hedonistic chums.

The acting is looser and much less mannered than the period setting might suggest, but the moral and ethical quandaries presented resonate more hypothetically than realistically. Still, they do resonate.

The people's comments