Woody Allen's Love and Death is purportedly a satire of all things Russian, from Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky novels to Sergei Eisenstein films, but it plays more like a spin on Bob Hope's Monsieur Beaucaire. Allen plays Boris, a 19th century Russian who falls in love with his distant (and married) cousin Sonja (Diane Keaton). Pressed into service with the Russian army during the war against Napoleon, Boris accidentally becomes a hero, then goes on to win a duel against a cuckolded husband (Harold Gould). He returns to Sonja, hoping to settle down on the Steppes somewhere, but Sonja has become fired up with patriotic fervor, insisting that Boris join a plot to kill Napoleon. Intellectual in-jokes abound in Love and Death, and other gags are basic Allen one-liners; for instance, after being congratulated for his lovemaking skills, Boris replies nonchalantly, "I practice a lot when I'm alone." The pseudo-Russian ambience of Love and Death is comically enhanced by the Sergey Prokofiev compositions on the musical track.
by Hal Erickson synopsis