June 18, 2010
Dover Kosashvili directs an expert literary adaptation of the Russian writer's tale of love and lethargy in the Caucasus.
Calling a film "Anton Chekhov's The Duel" underscores the Russian writer's pride of place as the prime mover in this expert literary adaptation. But if it weren't for the masterful work of director Dover Kosashvili, this rich, evocative film wouldn't have nearly the impact it does.
Israeli director Kosashvili seems at first glance an unlikely choice to direct screenwriter Mary Bing's pointed English-language adaptation of Chekhov's novella about love and lassitude in the Caucasus, the longest work of narrative fiction, in fact, in the great writer's portfolio.
But Kosashvili's family has roots in the region, having immigrated to Israel from Georgia, and the director's first film, 2001's exceptional "Late Marriage," shares with this one a feeling for the intricacies of emotional entanglements and an empathy for those in impossible dilemmas of their own making, individuals who would like to be better people but find the task beyond them.