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THE LUZHIN DEFENCE

UK, 2000 (MIFF 2001, International Panorama)

Director: Marleen Gorris

Adapted from Vladimir Nabokov's novel, The Luzhin Defence tells the story of a chess Grand Master who arrives at a sumptuous Italian resort to play the match of his life. Luzhin (John Turturro) is a dishevelled idiot savant whose obsession with the abstract world of chess has cost him the ability to function in the real world.

Society beauty Natalia (Emily Watson), another guest at Ihe resort, falls in love with Luzhin. She resolves to prepare him for the great match with passionate lovemaking—to boost his confidence. Luzhin is faced with the unsettling challenge of creating an impenetrable defence against his opponent while letting down his emotional defences with Natalia. When the tiniest particle of reality collides with Luzhin's hazy phantasmic world, his life is altered forever.

The Luzhin Defence is stately in scale, featuring grand deco interiors, elaborate period costumes, stunning landscapes and a stellar cast. The performances are vibrant, the script subtle capturing the intricacies of one of modern literature's most inventive talents. Profoundly moving and dazzlingly sensual.

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