March 15th, 2004



The Luzhin Defence

I realized after catching a bit of Angela's Ashes that Emily Watson is my latest movie star inamorata. She has amazing eyes and the sort of face that is rather plain until she smiles; an actor's face, made to have emotions written on it. She was pretty amazing in Hilary and Jackie, playing Jacqueline Du Pre (someone whom I worshipped from afar as a teenage 'cello nerd).

So Emily Watson AND John Turturro is a two-fer. I really enjoyed the first, oh, two-thirds of this -- fantastic acting, photography, and setting. Turturro manages to imbue a complete cipher of a character with great humanity; I can't imagine this being made in Hollywood, where he'll always have work in weirdo loser roles. Imagine going into a meeting and pitching "JOHN TURTURRO, ROMANTIC LEAD" -- heads ain't ready.

But where this movie goes off the rails for me is in pursuing it's tragic end. Pretty much as soon as you realize that things are going to end badly there's a long slow ride downhill where nothing much fun or interesting happens. I guess it's true to the Nabokov story, but really, if you can't keep the audiences interest and sympathies during the downer parts of movies, you're not doing your job as a movie maker.

But well worth renting, or netflix-ing, or whatever.