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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Doctor Zhivago (review)

Boris Pasternak’s Nobel Prize-winning novel, the classic story of star-crossed lovers amidst a backdrop of the social upheaval of the Russian Revolution, gets a stunning new production via British television and PBS’s Masterpiece Theater. Adapted by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice) and starring two appealing young rising stars, this is a grimly beautiful production electrifyingly awash in the ardor of guilt, betrayal, and love. Pirates of the Caribbean‘s Keira Knightley was only 16 when shooting began, but she masterfully nurtures the steely, knowing Lara to a convincing age of 32. Handsome Hans Matheson smolders as the fiery, passionate poet and doctor Yury, haunted by a desire for Lara that’s impossible to ignore. The always ingenious Sam Neill rounds out the cast as Lara’s nemesis, the oily villain Komarovsky. More faithful to Pasternak than David Lean’s 1965 epic, this is an absolute must-see for fans of romantic and historical drama. Extras include extensive interviews with the cast.

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