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Condensing a 500-page novel into a coherent, entertaining 90-minute film is a challenge for any director, and Joseph Sargent does an admirable job with this adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's classic. Patrick Dempsey gives an impassioned performance as Raskolnikov, a man tortured by the conflict between his ideals and the grinding poverty in which he lives, as well as his guilt over the murder of an old pawnbroker and her sister. Sargent's manipulation of camera angles and effects mimics Raskolnikov's swirling thoughts as he descends into a kind of madness. By contrast, Ben Kingsley is coolly superior as the police chief who matches wits with Raskolnikov in a psychological duel that builds throughout the movie. Only Julie Delpy is disappointing in her one-dimensional portrayal of Sonia, the destitute whore who falls in love with Raskolnikov. The plot moves quickly--occasionally too quickly, as some of the novel's crucial details have been omitted from the film, robbing some scenes of their full impact. While it may not delve as deeply as it could into the moral issues the novel addresses, the film does faithfully portray the contrast between the lives of those at the top and bottom rungs of society in turn-of-the-century Russia. --Larisa Lomacky Moore
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