Instead of Onegin, a more fitting title for this new film based on Alexander Pushkin's 1831 novel can be A Feinnes Family Affair. There are no less than three of the Fiennes' in the movie, maybe some more hiding in the background. Martha Fiennes is the director, Magnus Fiennes scored the music, and Ralph Fiennes (The Avengers, The End of the Affair) is the star. These siblings are all talented in their respective fields, but not much of this talent shows in Onegin, a meandering meditation on regret.
Evgeny Onegin (Fiennes), one of St. Petersburg's idle rich, who is content to sit around all day and do nothing. He inherits an estate in the country, and goes out to inspect it. He ends up idling away with his neighbor Vladimir Lensky (Toby Stephens), who is in love with Olga Larin (Lena Headey, Twice Upon A Yesterday, Merlin). Olga's sister Tatyana (Liv Tyler, Armageddon, Plunkett and Macleane) becomes infatuated with Onegin. Unlike many women of her era, Tatyana is headstrong. She is an avid reader, and (gasp!) has opinions on current issues. Onegin does not return her affection. Instead, he leaves quickly, due to a plot twist (which shouldn't be revealed in a review). Years later, Tatyana and Onegin meet again in St. Petersburg. This time, the feelings reverse. Onegin realizes his mistake in turning Tatyana away, and now pines for her. Tatyana now turns away Onegin's affection.
The above is a concise description of the movie, which moves glacier-like over the course of almost two hours. The actors walk around slowly, and deliver lines slower. Between some scenes, Fiennes (Martha) lets the screen dissolve to black for a couple seconds before switching scenes. Everyone has only two emotions; wanton adoration or haughty aloofness. There is not much ground covered in between. Onegin first embodies the latter, then the former, and Tatyana is the reverse. So little screen time is given to any budding romance between the two that it is hard to fathom why the two hold each other so dear. Fiennes (Ralph) seems to be making a career out of playing dour men, and does well here, as he does in all his movies. Tyler is also better than usual, though limited by what little the story has to offer. Most production aspects of the movie are much better. The costumes and settings are excellent, evoking the Russian upper class without appearing too clean and tidy, as in other movies. Shots taken on a fog-enshrouded pier next to a windmill are especially memorable. If only the rest of the movie was also.
|Mongoose Rates It: Okay|
|1 hour, 46 minutes, Not Rated, with adult themes and situations.|
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