: : : Onegin

Story

Given that for Russians, Pushkin's poem Eugene Onegin is sort of like Hamlet, Beowulf, and Lord Byron's Don Juan rolled into one melancholy tale of lost love and ennui among the gentry, it's surprising Russian filmmakers have balked at adapting the film. Having taken a stage production of Hamlet to Russia where it was rapturously received, self-confessed Slavophile actor Ralph Fiennes must have thought he was making reparation when he executive-produced and starred in this faithful adaptation of the film. With Martha Fiennes on board as director, it's something of a family affair with more than a little of the solemnity one often discovers in "personal projects". Pushkin's romanticism comes across amply, but little of his ferocious wit or, inevitably, the authorial voice that makes the poem so compelling, even in translation. Ralph Fiennes typecasts himself in the title role: his Onegin is yet another of the actor's wintry, haunted lovers in period dress (this time early 19th century). The character, a jaded roué from St. Petersburg, summers in the countryside where he inadvertently wins the heart of the impulsive Tatyana (Liv Tyler, the girl they book when Gwyneth Paltrow's busy). Onegin's casual attitude to her love leads to a tragic duel (magnificently tense and perfectly staged), and years later a chance meeting stirs up feelings of regret, triumph, and moral queasiness. Tears well in eyes, letters are sent and read, furs are ruffled in the snow. This is the highbrow end of costume drama: patrician in its literary purity, and rather admirable in its restraint and good taste, if a little dull. --Leslie Felperin

DVD Features

  • Making Of
  • Audio Commentary
  • 4 featurettes
  • Trivia

Cast

Ralph FiennesOnegin
Liv TylerTatyana
Toby StephensLensky
Lena HeadeyOlga
Martin DonovanPrince Nikitin
Alun ArmstrongZaretsky
Simon McBurneyTriquet
Harriet WalterMadame Larina
Jason WatkinsGuillot

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