Impressively, Ralph Fiennes learned Russian to star in this adaptation of Turgenev’s 1855 play ‘A Month in the Country’. And he fits in seamlessly with a cast of native speakers, playing Rakitin, the suave family friend visiting a country estate who becomes infatuated with the lady of the manor, brittle and restless Natalya (Anna Vartanyan). While her landowner husband is busy running the place, she is drawn towards a young student from Moscow (Nikita Volkov), hired as a tutor for the summer – and causing a stir with her teenage ward (Anna Levanova). Keeping up?
The locations are idyllic and the performances period-appropriately restrained. As filmmaking goes, ‘Two Women’ is no-frills, but stage actress Vartanyan has the emotionally marooned heroine down pat; while Fiennes, with his delicate performance, skilfully illustrating years of yearning behind strenuously maintained decorum, gives an acting masterclass.