Another member of the Fiennes family leaves a mark in the film business, as Martha Fiennes makes her big-screen directorial debut with a screen adaptation of the verse novel by Aleksander Pushkin, with her big brother Ralph Fiennes in the leading role. Onegin (Fiennes) is a blase man who has grown weary of the social whirl of his life in St. Petersburg in the 1820s. Onegin’s wealthy uncle has recently passed on, bequeathing him a large estate in the country, where the financially embarrassed Onegin has now chosen to live. Onegin makes fast friends with his neighbor Lensky (Toby Stephens), who introduces Onegin to his fiancée Olga (Lena Headley). Olga in turn introduces him to her mother (Harriet Walker) and her younger sister, Tatyana (Liv Tyler). Onegin finds Tatyana interesting, and she is strongly infatuated with him, finding him coolly attractive and enjoying his straightforward way of expressing himself. Tatyana makes her feelings known to Onegin in a love letter, but he calmly rejects her advances. Lensky senses Tatyana’s attraction to Onegin and talks to him about her; Lensky is shocked when Onegin says he regards her as unintelligent, and in a moment of anger Lensky challenges his friend to a duel. Neither man wants to kill the other, but both are too stubborn to back down, and Onegin ends up shooting Lensky, forcing him to flee to parts unknown. Six years later, a older and more humble Onegin re-encounters the married Tatyana and begs her for a second chance.
Synopsis by Mark Deming