Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
United Kingdom/France, 2000. C.R.G. International, Clear Blue Sky Productions, France 2 Cinema, ICE3, Lantia Cinema & Audiovisivi, Magic Media, Renaissance Films. Screenplay by Peter Berry, based on the novel Zashchita Luzhina by Vladimir Nabokov. Cinematography by Bernard Lutic. Produced by Louis Becker, Stephen Evans, Philippe Guez, Caroline Wood. Music by Alexandre Desplat. Production Design by Tony Burrough. Costume Design by Jany Temime. Film Editing by Michiel Reichwein. Toronto International Film Festival 2000.
Emily Watson is a Russian aristocrat visiting an Italian villa during a worldwide chess competition. While vacationing there with her mother, she meets eccentric chess genius John Turturro, a solitary and aloof character who immediately falls in love with her and asks her to marry him. Deciding to hold off on happily ever after for at least a little while, Watson gets to know her oddball suitor and realizes that underneath his dishevelled clothing is the heart of a passionate man with a brilliant mind, particularly in the game of skill that has demanded so much of his talent for so long. Unfortunately, his obsession with chess is actually a threat to his life, particularly with his jealous ex-mentor (Stuart Wilson) trying to manipulate him in order to destroy him and quash his insecurities forever. Marleen Gorris has made another beautiful, delicate drama, one that is elegantly photographed and excellently acted, particularly by the very fine Watson, and based on a novel by Lolita‘s Vladimir Nabokov.