DRAMA; 1hr 34min
STARRING: Andrew Scott, Fiona Glascott, Tobias Menzies
All eyes: Glascott
Mopey, self-pitying Laevsky (Scott) is tired of his voluptuous, man-magnet mistress, Nadya (Glascott), with whom he has rashly run away. He’s also bored to sobs by the Black Sea town in which they’ve taken roost, but then one suspects he might be bored almost anywhere. Indolent, dissolute and sly, the man is trouble in the making, and when he learns that Nadya’s husband has died, he keeps it to himself, not wishing to marry her. With Dover Kosashvili directing, Scott plays Laevsky as a sullen idler who combusts into hysteria. He’s magnetically easy to dislike, and in zoologist Von Koren (Menzies) he finds a daunting adversary.
The death of love hangs heavy indeed, especially in Russian hands and in a stultifying and judgmental 19th century when women were woefully dependent upon the egocentric whims of men. The mores of the time may have been markedly different, but as Chekhov was well aware, emotions ran hot. Based on his 1891 novella and adapted for the screen by Mary Bing, The Duel is a mannered paradox of genteel, millpond surfaces and dangerous lower depths.