The Luzhin Defence
Want to See
Not Interested
Rate it ½ star
Rate it 1 star
Rate it 1½ stars
Rate it 2 stars
Rate it 2½ stars
Rate it 3 stars
Rate it 3½ stars
Rate it 4 stars
Rate it 4½ stars
Rate it 5 stars
A lush historical drama from Dutch director Marlene Gorris, The Luzhin Defense is set in Como, a gorgeous northern Italian lakeside town located at the foot of the Alps. The year is 1929, and Alexander Luzhin (John Turturro) is a talented Russian chess player travelling to Como by train for the World Chess Championship. Also on his train is Natalia (Emily Watson), who is journeying to Como to meet her mother Vera (Geraldine James) at their posh lakeside hotel. Vera wants Natalia to settle down with the right -- meaning rich -- man, and duly tries to set her up with Jean (Christopher Thompson),… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Makes up for a creaky structure with the intensity of emotion and psychological nuance provided by two of our finest screen actors."
‑ Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News
"When Luzhin's old chess teacher shows up, the movie becomes a slow-motion wreck."
‑ Steve Murray, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Vale por completo la pena, y, si gustan del juego ciencia, es una cinta obligada."
‑ Alex Ramirez, Cinenganos
"One has to assume that Sony Pictures Classics hopes to attract Nabokov-philes to theaters. And, boy, will they be pissed."
‑ Glenn Kenny, Premiere Magazine
"The chess scenes, especially toward the end, are filmed with an attempted frenzy that borders on laughable."
‑ Dan Lybarger, Lawrence Journal-World
"It plays a predictable, if pretty, game."
‑ Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press
"If The Luzhin Defence falls short of being totally absorbing and compelling, it's surely because it's so difficult to translate Nabokov's view that we are all pawns in the big game."
‑ Desmond Ryan, Philadelphia Inquirer
"More lyrical and affecting than the stiffly contrived A Beautiful Mind. Profoundly in touch with the miracle and curse of a fragile, fanatical artistic sensibility."
‑ Prairie Miller, WBAI Web Radio
"Further proof that director Marleen Gorris ... can't shape a scene."
‑ Chris Hewitt (St. Paul), St. Paul Pioneer Press
"There are very real pleasures to be had."
‑ Marshall Fine, Journal News (Westchester, NY)
"As brave as it is affecting."
‑ Susan Stark, Detroit News
"Turturro supplies some good moments, but without a believable emotional core the film falls short"
‑ John A. Nesbit, Old School Reviews
"A dishonest adaptation of an unsentimental book."
‑ Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte Observer
"While [Turturro] certainly nails the bizarre outer manifestations of Luzhin's eccentricity, he never makes us care."
‑ Robert W. Butler, Kansas City Star
""A sedate, simplistic, dispiriting film about chess and madness. 'Searching for Bobby Fischer' is better.""
‑ Susan Granger,
More reviews for The Luzhin Defence on Rotten Tomatoes