Though the title may suggest a tense, hot-blooded outing that builds toward a bone shattering climax as two men face off, guns loaded with a single shot each, the reality here is somewhat different. As picturesque as the countryside captured by cinematographer Paul Sarossy may be, this telling of Chekhov’s stately novella starts in second gear, and it’s there it remains for its duration. And though the personal crises that are dissected here are the stuff of great drama ‑ the fractured relationship between boorish layabout Laevsky and his mistress, Nadia; the verbal jousting between Laevsky and zoologist Von Koren; the personal foibles of each member of this odd love triangle ‑ they’re portrayed in a leisurely, eloquent manner that’s pleasing to the eye but might require an energy drink to keep you awake. Performances are fine but never dazzling, though the jury’s still out on whether Laevsky is so unlikable due to Scott’s fine efforts, or if his somewhat forced acting is in itself a chore.
A confident if underwhelming outing from a relatively unknown director and cast that may find a home on DVD, but is unlikely to trouble the box office.