There have been a number of adaptions (plays, musicals, TV shows, movies) over the years that have featured Leo Tolstoy’s famous novel. Though, this marks the first time that Anna Karenina has truly been brought to the big screen and been given the respect and attention that the 19th century critically acclaimed novel deserves.
Directed by: Joe Wright
Starring: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Kelly Macdonald
Written by: Tom Stoppard (screenplay)
Music by: Dario Marianelli
“Set in late-19th-century Russia high-society, the aristocrat Anna Karenina enters into a life-changing affair with the affluent Count Vronsky.” -IMDB
- Keira Knightley: Credit Joe Wright for always being able to get the best performances (Atonement and Pride & Prejudice) out of Keria Knightley. Knightley seems to be able to put in her best performances when she is making period pieces. Here she plays the title character Anna Karenina, who is married to Karenin (Jude Law) but suddenly falls for Vronsky (Aaron Johnson) and this starts an affair in which the movie centers around.
- The Theater/Visual Effects/Art Direction: Joe Wright took a huge leap when he decided to shoot the entire movie as a stage play. So, the movie is built on these extravagant sets in an old decrepit theater (much like the 19th century). This bold style certainly will not work for everyone and some people will bash Joe Wright for the decision to shoot the movie this way. But for me, it worked and I just simply went with the innovative style.
- The False Ending: I will attempt to explain this without dropping any spoiler alerts. Towards the end of the film, Anna Karenina becomes ill and we are led to believe that this is the end of the movie. However, there are 30 minutes after that moment and I had emotionally checked out at that point.
- Aaron Johnson: Critics seem to be split over Aaron Johnson’s performance in this film. Johnson plays a rich and powerful cavalry officer Count Vronsky. I walked away from this movie feeling that Johnson was stiff for a character that could have more interesting. The blame should not fall solely on Johnson as the story did not do anything to help his performance here.
Anna Karenina falls somewhere between 2007’s Atonement and 2005’s Pride & Prejudice. Joe Wright’s take is really interesting and won’t win over everyone, but is best suited for those who enjoy stylish films and remarkable visuals. Check out the trailer and if you are intrigued by it, then chances are that you will really enjoy this film and vice versa.