Top critical review
cinematography by Rembrandt?
on December 1, 2003
The DUELLISTS, the first film by GLADIATOR director Ridley Scott, is the story of two soldiers in Napoleon's army who pursue a point of honor to the point of absurdity, fighting duels over a period of several decades. People often comment on the beautiful visuals in Scott's films, and indeed there were several times I had to remind myself I wasn't looking at the wall of a museum, it's a gorgeous movie.
But focusing just on the visuals is like talking about the atmosphere at a restaurant. There's a gaping hole in the movie and sadly it's name is Keith Carradine. Carradine, a star of Robert Altman films in the '70s, is much too modern and and laid back to play a leader of men in 19th century Europe, he'd rather be surfing. His opponent is played by Harvey Keitel in a ferocious performance, he looks like he could take over the continent by himself. The supporting cast is top drawer (Albert Finney, Tom Conti, Edward Fox) and the closing shootout is well staged. With a stronger actor in Carradine's part, this could have been great.
This generous and inexpensive DVD includes commentaries, an interview with Scott, and a surprisingly Truffaut-like short film Scott made in the '60s.