Onegin (1999)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Period Film, Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Dec 17, 1999 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 106 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Michael Costello

Martha Fiennes' adaptation of the Pushkin classic, produced by her brother Ralph, who also stars, is an intelligent and well-mounted effort, but the overall effect is muffled by what one might call the Masterpiece Theater treatment. The ironic tale of a brooding, solipsistic dandy who becomes a victim of his own detachment, the story demands a tone at once passionate and restrained. Here, unfortunately, the passion is smothered in quiet good taste. It's impossible to know whether the star or his sister made the decision to mute Onegin's emotions so thoroughly, but Fiennes' performance, while acute, tends to deprive the story of its innate power. Liv Tyler is surprisingly compelling as Tatyana, the ingénue besotted with the morose nobleman, and the director makes an interesting choice in allowing much of the story to be told through her huge, responsive eyes. Possibly the film's strongest aspects are the camera work of Remi Adefarasin and John Seagars' painstaking art direction, which combine to immerse the spectator in the atmosphere of 19th century Russia.