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Incredibly satisfying on many levels-
Watching this can be like enjoying exquisite oysters on the half shell, complemented with the perfect champagne; very subtle and understated yet complex and sensuous. Ralph Fiennes and sister/director Martha Fiennes worked as a team to bring this classic piece of Russian literature to the screen. For her it is a first turn directing a feature, making a move like Ridley Scott from commercials to film. Production values are fantastic, filled with rich textures without the self-indulgence and pomposity which are a common fault in period films, often at the expense of pacing and storytelling. The cinematography and editing are fluid and musical, languorous in areas without stagnation. Here are dynamics which are not unlike looking at paintings of Masters, displaying contrast between the bleakness of the Russian winter and the warmth and security of wealth and privilege. Magnus Fiennes, another family member created the soundtrack and borrows from period contemporaries like Lizst without the recycled/ripped-off path of least resistance. The use of duduk and strings casts a haunting spell in the ice skating scene. Casting here is perfect. Liv Tyler is impressive as Tatiana, embodying an elegance and organic sophistication without affectation. To watch her deal with the anguish resulting from rejection of her love is excruciating. Toby Stephens as Lensky is wonderful, the complete photo-negative to Onegin. There is a moment where he is playing chess, making a juvenile mistake and his reaction to the blunder is a brilliant bit of vacuity, playing Lensky at the height of his intelligence which is at that moment, absent. Ralph Fiennes puts in, as usual, a phenomenal turn as Onegin. It's amazing how he pulls us in when playing the tormented lover. And upon further examination they are less-than-likable at that; the English Patient, End of the Affair and Onegin all moody, taciturn guys. It's the magnitude of his devotion, distress and passion that are so compelling, why we women are so crazy about him. You believe that for him love truly is his lord and master.(Lucky Francesca Annis.) Why people haven't commented lavishly on this gorgeous gem I find mystifying. Perhaps the ending wasn't mainstream (happy) enough,....