Anna Karenina

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Stuck in a safe but passionless marriage, Anna Karenina (Keira Knightly) longs for something more when she encounters the dashing Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and after succumbing to her desires must deal with the consequences of her affair amidst the unforgiving society of imperial Russia.

Review

Reuniting with Pride and Prejudice director Joe Wright, he and Keira Knightley take on yet another classic literary figure in the form of the headstrong Anna in Tolstoy’s epic tale.

The production design and cinematography are simply spellbinding and from the opening shot of a curtain rising to reveal the stage that is the hypocrisy of Russian society at the time and the show of love, passion and betrayal that will play out on it, your eyes are mesmerised. The ideas of the film playing out on a stage is masterfully used and the incorporation of other art forms of dance, theatre and music, create a unique look and feel to the production and the opulence of the entire production will surely bag a nomination for production design and cinematography.

Knightley is well suited to the role and her performance is charming and vulnerable and she looks as beautiful as the costumes and sets that surround her. The intensity of her initial encounters with Count Vronsky are excellent and simmering with sexual tension, particularly during the ballroom scene where Anna fights to resist her undeniable attraction to him. While at first enticing and seductive with all the repressed passion commonly associated with period stories, their relationship becomes less engaging as the film progresses and their love is made public. Johnson’s performance is suave and sophisticated even if he does seem slightly too young for the part and his erratic hairstyle is distracting, but again once past the clandestine lovers phase, their relationship becomes much less captivating and the two are left to wonder if their infidelity was worth it.

Fittingly the only story line that plays outside the ‘staged’ world is Levin’s (Domhnall Gleeson) who breaks free from society’s constraints and finds a tender love with Kitty (Alicia Vikander). The scene where they confess their feelings of love to one another with letter blocks is one of the most powerful scenes in the film and certainly the most poignant.

Jude Law as Anna’s husband plays his role with an air of slight creepiness and though it is clear he loves her his stoic attitude does provide an explanation to the vivacious Anna’s unhappiness. Matthew Macfadyen is a welcome addition as Anna’s Brother. He brings a much needed dash of humour to the production which dazzles the eyes though sadly does not leave such a strong impression on the heart.

Verdict

Though visually stunning and with beautiful and creative production design, it lacks a certain amount of heart that prevents the finale from delivering quite the punch it should.

***

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Comments
9 Responses to “Anna Karenina”
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