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Kreutzer Sonata, The


Stars: Danny Huston, Elisabeth Röhm, Matthew Yang King, Anjelica Huston, Matthew Jacobs

Director: Bernard Rose

Despite the transference to an LA setting, this adaptation of a story by Tolstoy remains very Russian in feel, with its elements of uncontrollable impulses, first-person narration and impending doom.

Danny Huston is suitably haunted and intense as a man who becomes consumed with jealousy following a marriage based on animal passion rather than love. His wife (Röhm, far from the buttoned-up assistant DA of TV's Law & Order) is a classical pianist who gives up her career after her basic instinct-fuelled husband insists on sex without protection, resulting in two children and a stagnation of the union.

'They tell us,' laments Huston, 'that children are God's blessing. Children are a joy to us. It's all lies.'

When his wife forms a (presumably platonic) relationship with a young violinist (King), her husband's mind is gradually engulfed in rage, envy and what he imagines is their affair.

There's a lot of primal sex in this, quite well captured by the stars, but the pace is deliberately slow, and the all-consuming, claustrophobic atmosphere of approaching tragedy, together with the often dark and dizzying hand-held photography, demands patience from the viewer.

Huston's real-life sister Anjelica appears briefly but effectively as his sibling in the film.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Axiom Films. Colour by Fotokem.
99 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 3, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 15 Mar 2010