#NZFF Anton Chekhov’s The Duel
It has to be said that Anton Chekhov’s The Duel was one of the weirdest films I saw at the New Zealand Film Festival, probably because it is a close adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s 1891 Russian novella, but filmed in English. The combination of the spoken English word, with the retention of Russian names, set in a seaside resort in the Caucasus and acted by English and Irish actors made for a bizarre and unsettling experience even before Chekov’s weird tale began to slowly dissolve my brain.
The film’s main character Laevsky is in a bit of a rut and finds himself in a bit of a predicament. He’s just received a letter informing him that the husband of the women he seduced and is currently living with, Nadya, has died, opening the way for marriage. The problem is he doesn’t think he loves this woman any more. In fact, he ays as much that he never loved her. So the possibility of marriage isn’t something he wants on the table.
Of course in this loveless relationship, the gorgeous Nadya has been flirting something chronic with all the eligible males in the local populous, more to pass time than anything else, but this leads her to a bit of a conundrum.
Then their is the handsome zoologist, Van Koren, who overhears Laevsky’s problmes and wants for nothing more that to take Nadya to be his, so challenges Laevsky to a duel.
All in all, the film is a little like watching a spoilt kid having a tantrum at his birthday party because mum brought the wrong flavour ice cream, but not allowing any of his guests to eat it.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read