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Onegin is the film to see, for every man who has ever looked into the abyss of the rest of his life, knowing (always in hindsight) that he pushed away the one real chance he ever had at love. Onegin is our chance to view a guy even worse off than us.
As always no comparison is made to the Source Material, though I will admit a preference for Gogol over Pushkin. Blame Frank Galati . . . (an inside joke)
In the simplest terms, Onegin is a reverse of the old "country mouse in the city" tale beginning with the journey of Evgeny Onegin (Ralph Fiennes) from his sensationally boring life in the court at St. Petersburg to the country estate of his fabulously wealthy uncle, then on his deathbed. It isn't that Onegin is devoted to his elderly uncle, the old man has only one heir and Onegin isn't financially flush enough that he can afford to ignore his dying uncle's last request.
His uncle will leave him ownership of 500 souls (we'd call 'em slaves. The Russians called 'em serfs), three villages, extensive water rights, plus the country estate and a house in Moscow. In short, jackpot. But, Lord, if it wasn't boring enough at Court, the countryside seems like Hell to the cosmopolitan man. Still, appearances must be maintained and a stay must be endured and the neighbors should be met . . .
Which brings us to the most lovely Tatyana Larin (Liv Tyler), her older sister Olga (Lena Headey) and Olga's great love Vladimir Lensky (Toby Stephens). Lensky and Onegin become friends, the former feeling totally inferior to the latter. While there are parties and hunting expeditions and all that social stuff, Onegin wants out. When asked what he intends to do with his uncle's estate, he owns up that he intends to rent the land . . . to the serfs! That's a radical notion for the 1820-ish setting and the other landowners are not pleased. Onegin couldn't care less. Tatyana, who has been struck with love at first sight, writes an impassioned letter offering her devotion forever.
Not only does Onegin reject the advance, he rubs his attractive cosmopolitan airs in his friend Lensky's face. What comes next is logical, given the 19th century setting, but it isn't exactly pleasant. Six years later, the world weary Onegin is back in St. Petersberg where, at a party thrown by his cousin Prince Nikitin (Martin Donovan), he meets the newest member of the family. The Prince's wife. Look back to paragraph one and figure it out for yourself.
Ralph Fiennes actually displays a good range of emotions in this one, from the highs and haughty superiority of the somewhat effete fops at court, to the total emotional devastation when he realizes just how badly he's screwed up. Liv Tyler, who has been steadily learning the ropes since an awkward start in Stealing Beauty, nails this one. Raw, cold emotional anger has never looked so good.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Onegin, he would have paid...
Cranky liked this one. Some of the women I was sitting with were very vocal in opposition but, hey folks, I've got background and baggage in this stuff. And I love watching a (poor) slob getting it even worse than I did.
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