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Anton Chekhov's The Duel

Director:  Dover Koshashvili
Year Released:  2010
Rating:  3.0

Pleasantly light adaptation of a Chekhov novella about a drunken gambling grouch (Andrew Scott), his troubled relationship with a young widow (the beautiful Fiona Glascott) and the astute fellow (Tobias Menzies) who challenges the gambler to an old-fashioned bit of pistol play. Though costume dramas sometimes get too caught up in the superficial details of the material, this manages to appear lovely and tell a good story: Koshashvili and screenwriter Mary Bing handle Chekhov's nuances quite well, focusing on the Darwinian aspects of Menzies' character's motivations, and relishing the sneaky-sneaky sexual affairs taking place behind (barely closed) doors. It helps, too, that the cast is excellent, and Scott and Glascott make their characters' see-saw relationship compelling: as the cover image suggests, you have to try to stay afloat.

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