Forging boldy ahead despite the difficulties an international co-production faces in capturing the elusive flavor of Russian prose, dauntless screenwriter/director Reverge Anselmo combines the work of Turgenev and Chekhov, transforming them into hoity-toity Harlequin romance. Ingenuous youth Vladimir (Nick Stahl) grows tired of summering at his parents' estate on the perimeter of Moscow until breathtaking Zinaida (Kirsten Dunst), the daughter of a downscale Princess (Julie Walters), moves in next door. Vladimir leaves his boyhood pastimes behind and idealizes Zinaida as a royal beauty surrounded by swains, his snobbish mother (Geraldine James) reminds him that the Princess's family are a vulgar example of the nouveau poor. Bored by her own beauty, Zinaida suffers from a petulant nature that induces her to keep her grown-up suitors on a string. As Vladimir's infatuation heats up, the worldly Zinaida toys with his affections, even though she feels genuine fondness for him. Vladimir's unrealistic image of Zinaida is shattered when he discovers Zinaida has been bestowing her favors on hiw own father (Nathaniel Parker). In hopes of crushing any hint of rumor, Vladimir's mother whisks the family back to the city, but Papa doesn't break off the affair. As Zinaida languishes in a back street love-nest, her social status plummets. Throughout her disgrace, Vladimir never condemns his first crush. As Vladimir distinguishes himself in college, his father dies from a broken heart. What will become of Zinaida, who once reigned over a bevy of prospective mates but now finds herself alone? Whenever a passage from the original text appears in the film's voice-over narration, it gives the lie to this bogus adaptation. Instead of hinting at shattered adolescent illusions, this glorious-looking period piece repudiates subtle irony in favor of blatantly spelling out suppressed longings.
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- Released: 2001
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Forging boldy ahead despite the difficulties an international co-production faces in capturing the elusive flavor of Russian prose, dauntless screenwriter/director Reverge Anselmo combines the work of Turgenev and Chekhov, transforming them into hoity-toi… (more)