8:00 PM, 6th March, 2001
Onegin is a Russian love story. Need I say more? It can't end well, but the journey is a wonderful Russian tragedy that is beautiful and rewarding to behold. The film is based on the 19th-century romantic poem by Alexander Pushkin. It tells of Yevgeny Onegin (Fiennes), a bored Russian aristocrat, in search of meaning without recognising consciously that his life is without it. He inherits a country estate from an uncle and travels there to put his affairs in order. There he meets Vladimir (Stephens), befriends him out of sheer boredom, and is introduced to Tatyana (Tyler), the sister of Vladimir's fiance. Tatyana falls desperately in love with him and is rejected. Years later he encounters the married Tatyana in St Petersburg. He falls obsessively in love with her and is rejected.
This film is a Fiennes family production: Ralph stars, sister Martha directs, and brother Magnus composed the score. If you find this family unbearable, avoid this film, but I thought it was wonderful. The cinematography alone captured my imagination, but with another of Ralph's mesmeric performances and wonderfully atmospheric music, I found it a beautiful experience. Tyler also gives a surprisingly good account of herself, which was great as I've always found her insipid. Admittedly not everyone I went with liked it nearly as much as I did, but if you appreciate thoughtful films that value character development, imagery, and beauty over murder, mayhem, and noise you might just like this one.