The Luzhin Defence


Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26

Critic Reviews

  1. I can't think of another movie that more fluently communicates the special agony and ecstasy of the game of chess.
  2. Moves with fluidity and ease through brisk opening conventions to a perfectly poised and balanced endgame.
  3. Carefully made, involving and old-fashioned, the superior work it's inspired gives it an impact that lingers even when the endgame is over.
  4. 83
    Fine candy for mind and eye.
  5. Where it succeeds best is not in describing how Luzhin got broken but how love fixed him, albeit temporarily.
  6. 80
    A smart, romantic, heartbreaking pleasure.
  7. Boston Globe
    Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Watson's character grows in importance until she eclipses the recessive Luzhin.
  8. You'll find heartbreakingly star-crossed lovers, a heartless villain (Wilson) and a dazzling backdrop of aristocratic life before and after the Russian Revolution.
  9. New York Post
    Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    One of our best actors, Turturro surpasses his past fine work as Alexander Luzhin.
  10. 70
    Gorris has beefed up the role of Natalia (Watson), with the end result that the film's emphasis is appropriately divided between the two characters in an emotionally satisfying way.
  11. The stage is set for a wonderful movie, and yet The Luzhin Defence, based on the Vladimir Nabokov novel The Defense, never courts greatness.
  12. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    A smoothly made period romancer that's elevated by strong playing from its whole cast, led by John Turturro and Emily Watson as the starstruck lovers.
  13. 70
    John Turturro, who, given the most romantic role of his career, fully inhabits the ungainly Luzhin.
  14. Baltimore Sun
    Reviewed by: Michael Sragow
    Handsome and well-acted, yet it can't hold a pawn to Nabokov's harrowing and moving character study.
  15. 63
    The film is elegiac and sad, beautifully mounted, but not as compelling as it should be.
  16. Philadelphia Inquirer
    Reviewed by: Desmond Ryan
    Falls short of being totally absorbing and compelling.
  17. Turturro's Luzhin is a cinematic soulmate of Dustin Hoffman's Rain Man and Geoffrey Rush's David Helfgott.

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