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Onegin

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

A romantic tragedy, adapted from Russian poet Alexander Pushkin's 19th century verse novel. Set in 1820s Russia, Onegin is the powerful story of a jaded aristocrat whose life is dramatically changed when he inherits a country estate from his wealthy uncle. Moving from Saint Petersburg to the countryside, Evgeny Onegin (Ralph Fiennes) soon becomes embroiled in the life of a neighbouring family and finds himself as the object of the affections of Tatyana Larina (Liv Tyler), a beautiful young girl.

Also starring Toby Stephens as Vladimir Lensky, Lena Headey as Olga Larin, Martin Donovan as Prince Nikitin, Alun Armstrong as Zaretsky, Harriet Walter as Madame Larina, Irene Worth as Princess Alina. Written by Peter Ettedgui and Michael Ignatieff, directed by Martha Fiennes.

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

On-yay-ghin. It's Russian and it's depressing.

Hmmm... maybe that's a tautology.

Anyhoo, this adaptation simply reeks of eternal Russian pessimism. The bright side of life is only there to remind you of how bad things are. Every character, no matter their station or situation is drowning in a mire made from their own life. Every step forward is a step away from what you already have. Every breath is but an extension of your suffering. It's no wonder they invented vodka.

Ralph Fiennes makes a great jaded socialite and a pretty damned good unrequited lover. He captures the hopelessness of his character's culture with ease. No matter how happy he gets he always knows that he's about to fall. Like the great sage said, "This, too, shall pass". Liv Tyler is more human than any other character she's ever portrayed: virginally naïve as a lovesick girl and terminally tragic as a married woman. She and Ralph advance and retreat like German soldiers on the Russian front.

Toby Stephens absolutely shines as Vladimir, the provincial poet. He is at once intense and unfocussed. Like a stick of dynamite all he needs is the right fuse. That fuse is Onegin. His course of effete destruction reaches out and grabs those around him, dragging them into his personal hell. They may not suffer fire and brimstone but it makes eternity seem a long time.

If you like a good arty flick with lots of rich people being incredibly stupid and condemning themselves to live no better than the only life of which they can conceive, Onegin is a damned good film for you. Heck, even if you only go to see the frocks, it's worth the price of admission.

Security censorship classification

M

Surveillance time

106 minutes (1:46 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 22 June 2000

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