Set in the Russian countryside at the end of the 19th century, the drama turns on the wife of a rich landowner who falls in love with her son’s tutor. And it stars Ralph Fiennes speaking Russian! The setting is the Islaev country estate in the 1840s. Natalya (Anna Astrakhantseva), a headstrong 29-year-old, is married to Arkadi (Aleksandr Baluev), a rich landowner seven years her senior. Bored with life, she welcomes the attentions of Mikhail (Ralph Fiennes) as her devoted but resentful admirer, without ever letting their friendship develop into a love affair. The arrival of the handsome 21-year-old student Aleksei (Nikita Volkov) as tutor to her son Kolya ends her boredom. Natalya falls in love with him, but so does her ward Verochka (Anna Levanova), the Islaevs’ 17-year-old foster daughter. To rid herself of her rival, Natalya proposes that Verochka should marry a rich old neighbour, but the rivalry remains unresolved. It eventually implodes as both women fall for Alexei. What follows is a series of mental games and power plays, which, through confusion and misunderstanding, eventually also draw Mikhail, Natalya’s husband Arkady (Aleksandr Baluev) and various family acquaintances into the mire.