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Crime and Punishment Reviews

In St. Petersburg in 1856, students like Raskolnikov (Patrick Dempsey) espouse the Superman philosophy, which proclaims that certain individuals can transgress against the Law to make a better society. Expelled from the university for his subversive theories, Raskolnikov must pawns his textbooks and borrow money to survive. Meanwhile, his sister Dounia (Lili Horvath) loses her governess post when the attentions of her married employer Arkady (Richard Bremmer) upset his wife's decorum, and poverty drives Sonia (Julie Delpy), an innocent young woman from Raskolnikov's neighborhood, into prostitution. Driven mad by these inequities, Raskolnikov solves his cash flow problems and strikes a blow against the system by murdering his usurer and her sister who witnesses the slaying. Although a poor slob gets railroaded into confessing, Raskolnikov finds it burdensome to live with his guilt. Slowly, Magistrate Porfiry (Ben Kingsley) plays a cat and mouse game with the suspicious-acting Raskolnikov. As his nerves fray, can Raskolnikov prevent his disgraced sister from entering into a loveless marriage? Will only a sojourn to Siberia bring him redemption? Produced in a style that one's tempted to call Bullshitviski, this embalmed adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky's masterpiece follows in the hobbled footsteps of such recent literary TV events as THE ODYSSEY and GULLIVERS TRAVELS. If this TV production could be considered a rotting corpse, then David Stevens' teleplay is a skeleton dressed in Russian mufti. Thanks to Kingsley's steely aplomb and Dostoevski's astounding gift for nuanced storytelling, the film achieves some cohesiveness, but otherwise all subtlety is lost in this inadvertently burlesque rendition of the novel's many highlights.