By the Sword
Time Out saysInevitably reminiscent of Amadeus, what with Abraham playing Max Suba, an ex-fencing star faced with a younger, more brilliant exponent of the art (compare 'You are the best composer known to me' with 'You're the best fencer I've ever known'). Just like in Amadeus, Abraham gets to flash that sinister smile - both sets of teeth showing - and cry 'Maestro!' Roberts is an unbelievably mannered actor, but as Villard, he's playing an unbelievably mannered man, 'a freak who thinks he's living in the fourteenth century,' as one of the students complains. Villard runs a viciously competitive Salle (fencing school), and Suba, 25 years in the slammer, turns up to try for an instructor's post. Sternly repulsed ('One must learn, before one teaches'), he accepts a job as janitor. After many shots of him practising with a duster, a paint brush and a french stick, he begins to teach, but his gentle, philosophical style clashes with the Maestro's macho technique. A deeper secret links the two men, spelled out in nightmarish flashback, and there's an inevitable showdown. Right down to the painful fencing-to-disco-music routine, this is embarrassingly fab.