Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-law student, kills an old pawnbroker and her sister, perhaps for money, perhaps to prove a theory about being above the law. He comes to police attention ... See full summary »
Living in squalor, a former student and loner (Raskolnikov) murders an old pawnbroker woman in order to confirm his hypothesis that certain individuals can pretermit morality in the pursuit of something greater.
This mini-series is the ultimate psychological thriller with a powerful sense of guilt and retribution, set in St. Petersburg in the second half of the nineteenth century. Rashalnikov is a ... See full summary »
This TV movie is an excellent adaptation of the classic novel by Dostoyevsky. This is the story of Rodya Raskalnikov (Patrick Dempsey), an intellectual who is suspended from University and is living in poverty in 19th century Russia. Raskalnikov believes that in order for great men like Napoleon to accomplish great things, they must be above the law.
With this as a psychological backdrop, he gets the news that his sister has been discharged from her governess position and she is considering marrying a rich man she doesn't love to keep the family from starving. He reasons that he, being a great man, must take action to prevent this travesty. So he decides he should kill his pawnbroker, a despicable woman who preys on the misfortune of others, and take her money to save his sister from prostituting herself in this terrible marriage. He reasons that the pawn broker deserves to die anyway, and that his sister's future is far more important. The remainder of the story is a study in the torment and guilt he feels, and from which he cannot escape intellectually.
The film remains true to the novel, which is one of the classics of Russian literature. It is well directed, filmed in Poland to give it an authentic eastern European look. Joseph Sargent does an excellent job of capturing the rank poverty of the time in contrast to the opulence of the privileged.
This is Patrick Dempsey's shining moment, by far the best I've ever seen him. He does a terrific job of capturing the overwrought Rodya's agony and emotional distraction. Although Dempsey was sometimes overly manic in his portrayal, this is one of the most complex characters in literature and it is impossible to imagine anyone getting him just the way Dostoyevsky wrote him. Dempsey has come a long way since the Woo Woo Kid (`In The Mood', 1987).
Ben Kingsley was also terrific as the wily police chief who suspects Rodya of the crime, but with no evidence, cleverly manipulates his psyche to make the guilt unbearable.
I rated this film a 9/10. It is no substitute for reading the novel, but in comparison to most of what is on the market, this is a gem. Most refined viewers will not regret renting this film.
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