The Luzhin Defense
Directed by Marleen Gorris
Viewed at the San Francisco International Film Festival
Emily Watson reestablishes her ineffable charm in this 1920's epic love story between a quarky grand master chess champion and herself -- a melancholy heiress. Her over stuffy mother provides comic interludes. There is an evil mentor -- this film has everything. It is well produced, glamor lit, and about as exciting as Howards End on Valium. And if you don't mind the overacting of John Turturro, and if you thrive on the nail biting frenzy of a chess game that lasts all week, then the Luzhin Defense will have you riveted to your seat. And if you can bring yourself to believe that the beautiful Emily Watson would change her life again for yet another drooling spastic autistic bum -- then so much the better. I would have preferred that Emily not have been so perfect but perhaps a bit more spoiled. I wish the other characters had depth too. But still, the movie takes you somewhere, it's just that you've probably been there before.
Reviewed by Eric Wolfram, FilmCities