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THE LUZHIN DEFENCE aka LOUJINE
USA: Sony Pictures Classics
UK: Entertainment Film Distributors
Cast: John Turturro, Emily Watson, Geraldine James, Stuart Wilson, Christopher Thompson, Fabio Sartor, Peter Blythe, Orla Brady, Mark Tandy, Kelly Hunter, Alexander Hunting
Director: Marleen Gorris
Countries: UK / France
USA & UK: 108 mins
USA Rated: PG-13 for some sensuality and thematic elements
UK Certificate: 12 for some moderate sex
USA Release Date: 20 April 2001 (Limited Release - New York and Los Angeles)
UK Release Date: 8 September 2000
Adapted from a novel by Vladimir Nabokov this period drama is set in 1929 at a world chess championship by Lake Como in Italy. Alexander Luzhin (John Tuturro), a grandmaster, leads a cloistered life and had an unhappy ,haunting family upbringing. At the championship he meets Natalia (Emily Watson) and is instantly attracted to her, when she kindly picked up some things he had dropped. Natalia is flattered by this attention much to the annoyance of her mother, Vera (Geraldine James) who had set her sights on a French count for her daughter.
Further distractions include the appearance of his former mentor Valentinov (Stuart Wilson) at the chess match supporting his rival Turati (Fabio Sartor). All this stress taxes his sanity, bringing him close to the point of considering whether he should quit chess.