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ONEGIN

SYNOPSIS:
Bored with life in St Petersburg, Evgeny Onegin (Ralph Fiennes) leaves for the countryside where he has inherited an estate from a wealthy uncle. There he strikes up a friendship with neighbour Vladimir Lensky (Toby Stephens), an aspiring poet whose love for his fiancee Olga (Lena Headey) charms Onegin out of his cynicism. When Olga's sister Tatyana (Liv Tyler) declares her love for Onegin he rejects her and begins flirting openly with Olga. After being challenged to a duel by an affronted Lensky, Onegin returns to St Petersburg. A while later, he encounters Tatyana now married to his cousin, Prince Nikitin (Martin Donovan). Suddenly stricken with love for her at second sight, and tortured by his past arrogance, Onegin is determined to win the love of Tatyana, who no longer pines for him.

"If you haven't had your melancholy hit this week, go and see Onegin, the Fiennes family opus (excuse the flip tone, Ralph, Martha, Maya, Magnus) that translates the 19th century Russian romantic drama into a 20th century screen poem. So achingly beautiful yet sparse - economic even, at 106 minutes - that you feel you've watched a condensation, or perhaps more accurately, a concentration, of the story that only great writing (or great filmmaking) can elevate into something gripping. The basic premise of the story is simple and rather mundane in a way, but the characters, the settings (physical, social and emotional) and the superb level of performances carries us away. St Petersburg in the early 1800s has never looked more interesting, but then everything Remi Adefarasin lights and shoots is marvelously conceived - often quite simply, but with great elegance. The final shot (riddled with symbolism and a final dose of melancholy) is a good example of both the economy of the direction and the restrained power of the camerawork. It's a film that does not contrive to demand anything of the audience and yet makes a genuine effort at coming to terms with a story that's all too human. While it's 'serious' cinema, it avoids being heavy handed."
Andrew L. Urban

"Romance and cynicism collide head on in Onegin, a hauntingly beautiful cinematic saga with sublime performances and superb production design. Melancholy is captured by moaning gypsy music strings; tragic minor keys elicit a lingering cinematic language. Director Martha Fiennes impresses in her feature film debut, using the source material to maximum effect. In fact, this is a tour de force for the entire Fiennes family; Magnus the composer, Maya playing piano in the gypsy band and of course Ralph, who is at his best as the brooding, bored and cynical man whose substance lacks severely in matters of the heart. His steely blue/grey eyes are dense as the thick mist over the lake when intensity of emotions are at their peak. Liv Tyer is exquisite the camera caresses her like a breeze. Onegin is a cinematic and visceral experience and many scenes remain captive in our minds. The churning windmill (a central symbol in one of the most dramatic scenes in the film) cuts through air as surely and deliberately as the hands of time and the inevitability of life and death. A story of obsession, Onegin is a moody film of subtleties, an intriguing journey of passions."
Louise Keller

"No-one is better at looking tortured and doomed than Ralph Fiennes. After doing both to such good effect in The End Of The Affair he continues the impressive run as the hub and centre about which tragedy revolve in this adaptation of Pushkin's classic. Sure he's also doing his sister Martha a favour by starring in her first feature as director, but family connections or not he's the ideal choice to play Onegin. We know this from the start as he sits around looking bored at St Petersburg before making every conceivable wrong turn, including spurning the love of Liv Tyler, during his country sojourn. This is a generally well polished, respectable adaptation of a literary classic which doesn't reach electrifying heights but does manage to recover from a fairly lifeless opening and convey all the agony of love and redemption lost. Fiennes is surrounded by other fine performers including a surprisingly good Liv Tyler as Tatayana, Lena Headey as her sister Olga and especially Toby Stephens as the optimistic and true of heart Lensky. Martha Fiennes acquits herself capably on debut, with her handling of the duel between Onegin and Lensky by a mist-shrouded lake a show-stopper by any measure. I doubt Onegin will send anyone into raptures but it's a quality item worth the attention of what market analysts sometimes refer to as 'discerning audiences'."
Richard Kuipers

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

Our Italian correspondent Sandra Bordigoni talks to
RALPH & MARTHA FIENNES

TRAILER

ONEGIN (M15+)
(UK)

CAST: Ralph Fiennes, Liv Tyler, Francesca Annis, Martin Donovan, Toby Stephens, Lena Headey

DIRECTOR: Martha Fiennes

PRODUCER: Ralph Fiennes, Simon Bosanquet, Illeen Maisel

SCRIPT: Peter Ettedgui, Michael Ignatieff

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Remi Adefarasin

EDITOR: Jim Clark

MUSIC: Magnus Fiennes

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jim Clay

RUNNING TIME: 106 minutees

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Pinefilm

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: June 22, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Siren Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: November 15, 2000







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