The Luzhin Defence (2001) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Luzhin Defence2001

The Luzhin Defence (2001)



Critic Consensus: Tuturro and Watson play well off each other in this intriguing and well-crafted film.

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Movie Info

A lush historical drama from Dutch director Marlene Gorris, The Luzhin Defense is set in Como, a gorgeous northern Italian lakeside town located at the foot of the Alps. The year is 1929, and Alexander Luzhin (John Turturro) is a talented Russian chess player travelling to Como by train for the World Chess Championship. Also on his train is Natalia (Emily Watson), who is journeying to Como to meet her mother Vera (Geraldine James) at their posh lakeside hotel. Vera wants Natalia to settle down with the right -- meaning rich -- man, and duly tries to set her up with Jean (Christopher Thompson), a French count. However, Natalia instead sets her sights on Luzhin, who returns her affections, and the two embark on an unusual and unpredictable love affair. Adapted from one of Vladimir Nabokov's lesser-known novels, The Luzhin Defense also features the talents of Mark Tandy and Kelly Hunter as Luzhin's parents -- seen in flashback -- and Orla Brady as his young aunt. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi


John Turturro
as Alexander Luzhin
Emily Watson
as Natalia
Stuart Wilson
as Valentinov
Christopher Thompson
as Jean De Stassard
Mark Tandy
as Luzhin's Father
Kelly Hunter
as Luzhin's Mother
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Critic Reviews for The Luzhin Defence

All Critics (71) | Top Critics (23)

Makes up for a creaky structure with the intensity of emotion and psychological nuance provided by two of our finest screen actors.

June 14, 2001

It plays a predictable, if pretty, game.

May 21, 2001

As brave as it is affecting.

May 21, 2001 | Rating: 3/4

When Luzhin's old chess teacher shows up, the movie becomes a slow-motion wreck.

May 18, 2001 | Rating: C+

If The Luzhin Defence falls short of being totally absorbing and compelling, it's surely because it's so difficult to translate Nabokov's view that we are all pawns in the big game.

May 17, 2001

Trapped between being an offbeat, slightly daffy period romance and a dark study of a tragic genius, The Luzhin Defence struggles to a draw.

May 11, 2001 | Full Review…

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