Duet for One | Chicago Reader

Duet for One

Andrei Konchalovsky's adaptation of Tom Kempinski's stage play, about a concert violinist (Julie Andrews) whose career is cut short by a crippling disease. For a while it doesn't seem cut short enough: everything's so gray and enervated you wonder how Konchalovsky (Maria's Lovers, Siberiade), an intelligent stylist and former assistant to Soviet director Andrei Tarkovsky, ever got caught up in these genteel suds. But the last part of the film is virtually flawless: Andrews moves from suicidal depression (watching her old performance tapes in a darkened room: it's a scene of exquisite, stripped expressiveness) to valedictory affirmation, and the emotions invariably ring true, pushing beyond bathos (and beyond considerations of technique) toward a rarefied, Dreyer-like transcendence. Still, there's something vaguely dispiriting in watching Konchalovsky rake in the autumn leaves: he ought to have better things to do with his talent than impersonate Karoly Makk (Love, Lily in Love). With Alan Bates (imponderably miscast as Andrews's composer husband), Max von Sydow, and Rupert Everett.

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