The Kreutzer Sonata (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner10/03/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 109 mins

Impressively directed and superbly written, this is a gripping marital thriller with a terrific central performance from Danny Huston.

What's it all about?
The Kreutzer Sonata reunites director Bernard Rose with his Ivansxtc actor, Danny Huston, for another Tolstoy adaptation, this time adapted from a scandalous story that Tolstoy wrote in response to the titular Beethoven piece. Huston plays wealthy philanthropist Edgar, who becomes insanely, pathologically jealous of his beautiful wife, concert pianist Abby (Elisabeth Rohm).

The Good
Huston is perfectly cast in the lead role and his delivery of the voiceover (most of which is direct from Tolstoy's story) is so good that you'd happily listen to him read War and Peace. There's also strong support from Elisabeth Rohm and a delightful cameo from Angelica Huston as Edgar's sister.

The film is brilliantly directed throughout and it often feels as if Rose is letting the Beethoven soundtrack dictate what we see on screen. Certainly, the soundtrack is used extremely well, particularly during scenes involving sex and violence.

The Great
There are some extraordinary scenes here. The sex scenes are both powerful and extremely intimate, yet seem more naturalistic (Rohm is flushed with a convincing post-coital glow) than the majority of Hollywood sex scenes. Similarly, Rose creates an incredibly tense atmosphere, cranking up the expectation of violence to fever pitch, so that when it finally arrives, it's all the more intense.

However, perhaps the most shocking thing about the film is Tolstoy's own writing (the book was an instant scandal and banned for many years), not just because of the sexual jealousy and violence but because it dares to voice ideas such as the fact that children are not necessarily a blessing (Abby has severe post-natal depression; Edgar denounces the idea that children are automatically wonderful as "a fucking lie") and that even sex itself isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Worth seeing?
The Kreutzer Sonata is a superbly directed, brilliantly written marital thriller that exerts a vice-like grip and doesn't let go, thanks to riveting performances from Huston and Röhm. Hitchcock would be proud. Highly recommended.

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The Kreutzer Sonata (18)
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Content updated: 18/09/2018 15:24

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