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The Soul of Liberal Guilt in Please Give and Chekhov Done Right in The Duel

Rich people problems. Compelling ones!

An American production, shot in English on the Croatian coast with a mainly Anglo-Irish cast, The Duel is intelligently staged and impeccably crafted. Although co-producer Donald Rosenfeld is a long-time Merchant Ivory associate, this potentially middlebrow exercise is neither anemic nor unduly genteel. The period atmosphere is sensuous; the postcard setting feels lived-in. Koshashvili, whose 2001 Late Marriage was a superbly volatile generational farce, gives the Masterpiece Theater tradition a welcome zetz.

Like Late Marriage, The Duel features a memorable female turn, although here one of transcendent passivity. Glascott's Nadia is a foamy cocktail of rosy cheeks, ruby lips, overflowing bodice . . . and numbing affect. Yet, thanks to Glascott's ineffable sadness, this vulgar creature, too, has a soul—maybe even a Russian soul. In any case, The Duel is the most successful literary adaptation I've seen since Pascal Ferran's 2006 Lady Chatterley.

Is she dead?
Piotr Redlinski
Is she dead?

Details

Please Give
Written and directed by Nicole Holofcener
Sony Pictures Classics
Opens April 30

Anton Chekhov's The Duel
Directed by Dover Koshashvili
High Line Pictures
April 28 through May 11, Film Forum

jhoberman@villagevoice.com

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