Mephisto director Szabo's latest picture is an ambitious, sprawling epic tracing the story of three generations of one Jewish-Hungarian family through the turbulent backdrop of 20th century European political history.
But it's a movie that's unbalanced from the outset by the uncomfortable combination of the weighty issues of repression and persecution with episodes of bodice-ripping titillation - think Jackie Collins writes the script for Schindler's List.
Fiennes gives three customarily intense performances as the first son of each generation of the Sonnenschein family: Ignatz the judge; his son Adam, an Olympic fencer who is murdered by Nazis; and Ivan, the political activist haunted by the memory of his father's appalling death. Had the same material been divided into a three-part TV series, it would have been more successful. As a film, it lumbers inexorably towards three hours in length, losing sympathy with each passing minute.