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Doctor Zhivago Reviews

This attenuated made-for-television version of Boris Pasternak's classic novel won't erase rapturous memories of David Lean's 1965 epic with Julie Christie and Omar Sharif. As a Russian youngster, Yuri Zhivago (Sam MacLintock) crossed paths with entrepreneur Victor Komarovsky (Sam Neill), who drove Yuri’s father to financial ruin and suicide in 1897. Raised by relatives, Yuri grows up as compassionate as Komarovsky is ruthless. The unprincipled Komarovsky swims with the tide of every regime change and strings along several mistresses before falling for Lara (Keira Knightley), the teenaged daughter of his lover, Amalia Guishar (Maryam D’Abo). Although Amalia doesn't try to get in the way of the affair, she does try to kill herself; when Komarovsky calls for medical help, Yuri, now a young medical student, saves the day. Later, as a full-fledged doctor, Yuri comforts Lara after she attempts to shoot Komarovsky at a casino. Although Yuri marries his childhood sweetheart, Tonya Gromeko (Alexandra Maria Lara), and Lara weds idealistic revolutionary Pasha Antipov (Kris Marshall), Yuri and Lara are bound together by an unbreakable romantic bond. Swept up by the Russian Revolution, Yuri serves his country in the medical corps and encounters Lara, who's a field nurse. Later, in peacetime, he's increasingly frustrated by his hospital's communist bureaucracy. Yuri falls into disfavor with the party and removes himself to the countryside, where he once again runs into Lara. Yuri risks his marriage to consummate their relationship with Lara, but their idyll is rocked by the appearance of Komarovsky, who reveals that they've both been blacklisted. Komarovsky convinces Yuri to trick Lara into leaving with him. Guilt-ridden over his clandestine affair, Yuri tries to breath new life into his relationship with his family and rededicates himself to healing others, while Komarovsky finally gets his comeuppance. Lean's DOCTOR ZHIVAGO is high-grade soap opera, but it boasts real movie stars and a passionate conviction in the material's romantic core. In director Giacomo Campiotti's hands the star-crossed characters seem adrift, lost without Lean's sweeping direction and Maurice Jarre's haunting musical theme.