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Set in 1930s Shanghai, where a blind American diplomat develops a curious relationship with a young Russian refugee who works odd -- and sometimes illicit -- jobs to support members of her dead husband's aristocratic family.
In the opulent St. Petersburg of the Empire period, Eugene Onegin is a jaded but dashing aristocrat - a man often lacking in empathy, who suffers from restlessness, melancholy and, finally, regret. Through his best friend Lensky, Onegin is introduced to the young Tatiana. A passionate and virtuous girl, she soon falls hopelessly under the spell of the aloof newcomer and professes her love for him. Written by
Dawn M. Barclift
This is a truly wonderful film. It is an adaptation of the 19th century romantic poem by Alexander Pushkin about the tragic love affair between Evgeny Onegin (Ralph Fiennes) and Tatyana Larina (Liv Tyler). Evgeny has inherited his uncle's provincial estate and goes to the country to put his affairs in order. While there, he befriends Vladimir (Toby Stevens) who introduces him to Tatyana, the sister of his fiancé. Tatyana falls madly in love with Evgeny, but he brutally rejects her and leaves to return to St. Petersburg. Upon returning years later to find her married, his regrets ignite into a passionate and obsessive love for her.
There has been some criticism of the fact that this film was produced by Ralph Fiennes to give a project to his sister Martha (director) and brother Magnus (original music). Well, if this is the high quality wrought from Fiennes nepotism, we need more such collaborations.
In her feature film directorial debut, Martha Fiennes gives us outstanding imagery, precise period renderings, innovative camera work, and dramatic lighting. The locations, sets, costumes and props were fabulous. I especially loved the furniture. The scenes on the dock by the mill in the fog were eerie and chilling. One shot of Liv Tyler in a rowboat, shot through out-of-focus reeds in the foreground, was pure art. The extreme close-up of the inking of the love letter added to the power of the emotions being written. Remi Adefarasin (Elizabeth') added wondrous cinematography to the list of filmmaking kudos.
Ralph Fiennes delivers another superb performance as Evgeny. In the early scenes, he is cavalier, self absorbed, and arrogant to the point of being despicable. His stoical dismissal of Tatyana was ice cold. In the later scenes, he delivers a character so pathetically tormented by love that he wins back our sympathies.
This is by far the best performance I have seen by Liv Tyler. She was poised, graceful and lovely, and gave an extremely dignified performance. With this role, she has proven that she can move beyond the troubled teen type and play a character with substance.
This is intelligent and inspired filmmaking. I rated it a 9/10. The pacing is deliberate, so action junkies will want to pass on this film. However, for those who can savor a compelling love story with splendid imagery, this film should not be missed.
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