The Luzhin Defence

Overview

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...
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Overview

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
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Marlene Gorris' The Luzhin Defence is less about chess than it is about the existence of a person obsessively devoted to a single pursuit. John Turturro gives a great performance as chess great Alexander Luzhin. He looks and acts like a cross between Harpo Marx and Geoffrey Rush's portrayal of David Helfgott in Shine. Unable to walk smoothly, his body seems to be at fighting a losing war with his mind. When he meets Emily Watson's Natalia, his love for her alters the way he moves, a change most memorably presented in a scene where the pair dance ecstatically with each other. This relationship offers him an escape from the obsession that has controlled him most of his life. The performances are all strong, but it is Turturro's show. Romantic, haunted, and quirky, this character is the cerebral equivalent of Nicholas Cage's alcoholic writer in Leaving Las Vegas, a man who glimpses happiness and peace as he speeds towards his sad fate.
Entertainment Weekly
Fine candy for mind and eye. Ty Burr
Washington Post
An utterly hypnotic movie. Stephen Hunter
New York Post
It's Turturro's extraordinary, Oscar-worthy performance that makes The Luzhin Defence something really special. Lou Lumenick

An utterly hypnotic movie. Stephen Hunter
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/26/2002
  • UPC: 043396063716
  • Original Release: 2000
  • Rating:

  • Source: Sony Pictures
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Turturro Alexander Luzhin
Emily Watson Natalia
Geraldine James Vera
Stuart Wilson Valentinov
Christopher Thompson Jean De Stassard
Fabio Sartor Turati
Peter Blythe Ilya
Orla Brady Anna
Mark Tandy Luzhin's Father
Kelly Hunter Luzhin's Mother
Technical Credits
Marleen Gorris Director
Louis Becker Producer
Tony Burrough Production Designer
Alexandre Desplat Score Composer
Stephen Evans Producer
Celestia Fox Casting
Peter Glossop Sound/Sound Designer
Tommy Gormley Asst. Director
Philippe Guez Producer
Craig Irving Sound/Sound Designer
Bernard Lutic Cinematographer
Vladimir Nabokov Source Author
Jody Patton Executive Producer
Leo Pescarolo Co-producer
Michael Reichwein Editor
Eric Robison Co-producer
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