Save Shakespeare, Chekhov is the literary giant whose work is most frequently adapted for the screen. Based on his eponymous 1891 novella, “The Duel” gives life to a classic Chekhovian tale: the young ne’er-do-well aristocrat vs. the arrogant man of science; the attraction of a manipulative, narcissistic mistress vs. the life of the mind and of principled action. Gambling, alcohol and flirtations consummated in an impossibly beautiful countryside hold obvious attractions for Laevsky. But he’s brought up short when financial ruin and his mistress’s sexual dalliances lead to a violent denouement. Dover Kosashvili, director of “Late Marriage,” assembles a brilliant ensemble cast of British actors who strike just the right balance between intrigue and that particularly Russian brand of ennui we associate with Chekhov — but which today might elicit a prescription for Celexa.
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