Lady With the Dog, The (1960)

Lady With the Dog, The (1960)

“It’s wrong. You’ll be the first not to respect me now.”

In turn-of-the-century Russia, a married father (Aleksey Batalov) has an affair in Yalta with a newlywed young woman (Iya Savvina) who is equally unhappy in her marriage — but do the lovers have any chance of a life together?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Infidelity
  • Russian Films
  • Star-Crossed Lovers

This adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s 1899 short story — helmed by Soviet director Iosif Kheifits (also known by the alternate spellings of Jossif Cheifiz, Yossif Cheifiz, Iosif Heifits, Josef Heifitz, Josif Hejfits, and I. Kheyfits) — tells a straightforward, beautifully shot tale of married lovers who don’t really have a chance at long-term happiness. Without having read Chekhov’s original story (or at least not in many years), I struggled to engage on a meaningful level with either of these protagonists, and found myself wondering what was going on in their minds as we see them clearly deeply reflecting on… something:

While Savvina is certainly beautiful to look at:

… and the couple’s time together is spent in gorgeous locales:

… there doesn’t really seem to be anywhere for this doomed tale to go.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Fine cinematography and sets

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look if you’re a fan of the short story.


One thought on “Lady With the Dog, The (1960)

  1. First viewing (12/5/20). Not must-see.

    Quiet, moody, slow-paced love story (from Chekhov). An emotionally scattered married woman is on ‘holiday’, when actually she has only been seeking time away from her stifling marriage. She catches the eye of an older married man and they have a brief affair.

    The woman suddenly feels guilty and tortured but the man doesn’t seem to have been all that affected. Yet, soon after they separate, the man can’t seem to stop thinking about her… eventually to the degree that he lies to his wife about a ‘business trip’ and seeks the woman out in her own town. She is overjoyed at seeing him again, if still feeling somewhat guilty and tortured.

    The couple find a way to resume seeing each other periodically – and the film ends with an understated resolution.

    These two share an attraction that seems to hinge on something they don’t understand but nevertheless feel. The film itself is not particularly compelling except in the way it illustrates how people sometimes marry without knowing / understanding what they’re doing and without feeling a genuine passion.

    That’s what makes the last 10 minutes somewhat touching.

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