A family affair for the Fiennes clan. Ralph serves as producer as well as playing the tragic hero in this handsome and moving, if finally, enigmatic, version of Pushkin's great verse novel; his sister quite assuredly makes her directorial debut; and Magnus Fiennes composed the score. Languorous Evgeny Onegin is first spotted in the St Petersburg salons of the 1820s barely hiding his distaste for his foppish, dissolute fellows, before the inheritance of a country estate brings him into contact with the invigorating poet Lensky (Stephens), his fiancée and her pretty sister Tatyana (Tyler). That Tatyana falls for this elegant paragon of non-commitment will have dramatic consequences for all three. Shot partly in Russia, this is quality costume drama with a difference. Adapting Pushkin demands sustaining a slow agonising burn, finding a visual correlative for the inflections, the subtlest of cruel ironies, much of which must be read in the face, demeanour and diction of Onegin. Ralph suffers and disdains (himself) with authority, but his efforts to mute stuffed-shirt romanticism merely draw attention to it. The film suffers from some lapses of emotional tension, some over-emphatically edited contrasts and unnecessary effects. But, even if grand pathos isn't achieved, Martha Fiennes makes a brave and welcome stab at it.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Peter Ettedgui, Michael Ignatieff|