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The Kreutzer Sonata

Film Three Stars
The Kreutzer Sonata comes from the director Bernard Rose who brought us Snuff-Movie (Filmstalker review), a film that I thought was utterly terrible and gave it no stars at all, so I wasn't exactly on fire about this film, but once again I was attracted by the star name of Danny Huston in the lead role.

Rose directed and co-wrote the film along with Lisa Enos who co-wrote with him and produced as well as starred in Snuff-Movie. This wasn't really looking that good, but perhaps Huston could save it?

Plot.pngDannyHuston.jpgThe film is adapted from Leo Tolstoy novel of the same name which itself was inspired by the music of Ludwig Van Beethoven's sonata, and tells the story of Edgar Hudson and his relationship with Abby, a woman whom he meets at a party and is destined to become his wife.

The two first meet when Edgar is enjoying being a single man and Abby is in a relationship. He's a rich businessman and she's a concert pianist, and they meet at a party and act upon their obvious attraction. They continue an affair and eventually realise that they should be together.

The marry, have two kids, and Abby resents giving up her career as a concert pianist and being stuck at home as a wife. This begins to fuel Edgar's jealousy and concern, believing that she is bored with her life and will start to look for some excitement.

He arranges a party to raise funds and awareness for a charity he's sponsoring, and she is to play The Kreutzer Sonata with a talented, good looking, and much younger violinist, and so his jealousy grows and grows.

TheFilm.pngThe film focuses intently on the leads of Abby and Edgar, played by the gorgeous Elisabeth Röhm and the screen grabbing Danny Huston, but mainly on his character of Edgar. They really do have a great relationship on screen, and Huston himself gives a strong performance as we see his descent into an all consuming jealousy.

It has a very lose feel to the filming as the camera seems to be mostly hand held and taking natural frames, never trying to overpower the story, rather just observe it. At times the performances seem unrehearsed and improvised, something that suits the story well.

It opens typically, showing us the final events of the film at the beginning, setting the tone of the story as it leaps back to the start of their relationship together and the first moments that they met.

Huston provides a voice over throughout for his character, and while most creatives in film would say that the voice-over is a tool of the lazy writer, it does work well here and gives us a good insight into the mind of the character, taking us along with his journey, and helping us understand his descent.

However the voice-over did feel overdone and over-explanatory in places, and despite the heavy hitting Huston being in the film this isn't his strongest performance. At times his rage and swearing feels and sounds forced and deliberate, not at all natural.

Although the character's descent is portrayed well for the most part and is interesting to watch, there are a few moments where it leaps forwards, particularly when he goes into the phase of the film where he shifts from jealousy to rage and full paranoia.

The journey for him though is really quite interesting, despite that leap. There are a number of scenes where you really do understand and identify with his jealousy and why he's feeling it, something that comes through the performance and voice-over from Huston as well as the way that the relationship between the couple is developed.

The ending did leave a little to be desired. It does fall into cheap horror and slapstick for a moment which seems totally at odds with the rest of the film and severely lessens the final impact.

Overall.pngI was surprised at how well the story was structured and that I enjoyed watching the character's descent as well as the way the film portrays the relationships and plays out the story.

I thought Snuff-Movie (Filmstalker review) was a terrible film and was ready for another disaster, but actually this is really rather good and has some strong moments. It's not fantastic, but it is a lot better and would be hard to identify this as the same director.

Huston gives a great performance and Röhm does well not to be eclipsed by him. There are a few bumpy moments on the way, and the character does take a bit of a leap, but for the most part the journey is both interesting and identifiable with. A vast improvement from Snuff-Movie.

Release Dates: As of now there's a U.S. date set simply to 2008.

Buy from Play.com, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Search for The Kreutzer Sonata on Filmstalker stores
UK IMDB Film Details
Filmstalker's Edinburgh International Film Festival 2008 page



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