Short Takes: Cinema: Onegin

Directed by Martha Fiennes

Terminally self-absorbed, Evgeny Onegin (Ralph Fiennes) rejects Tatyana (Liv Tyler), the pretty, thoughtful, romantic girl from the neighboring estate. After marrying into the St. Petersburg aristocracy, she in turn rejects his belatedly awakened passion. Aside from a foolish, deadly duel, that's about all that happens in this handsome, well-acted, richly textured adaptation of Alexander Pushkin's novel. But first-time director Fiennes, the actor's sister, has a sharp eye for the early signs of a society's decay, a cool sympathy for the languid irrelevancy of the 19th century Russian gentry as it murmurs toward prerevolutionary chaos.

--By Richard Schickel

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