Anna Karenina Movie Review
ANNA KARENINA is the beautiful film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s 1877 novel of the same name. Brilliantly crafted, director Joe Wright smartly unfolds this story in the most creative way possible. Captivating audiences from the start with the spectacular set design and fantastic rhythm, it is inevitable that you will be drawn into the passion that is the pulse of this film.
Much like that of an elaborate theater stage, the set is a functioning piece that is constantly morphed into the necessary room, building or outdoor space. Without a doubt, ANNA KARENINA will receive several Oscar nominations, with Art Direction and Best Picture being just two of the many. The costumes were the one thing I was looking forward to within this film and they did not disappoint. As the tale is set in 19th century Russia, we are treated to the most stunning costumes. Dripping in jewels and rich bold colors, one cannot help but lust after the lush fabrics and amazing statement pieces.
ANNA KARENINA primarily follows Anna (Keira Knightley), a Russian socialite, who gives into the temptation of a forbidden love affair with a persistently intense Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Leaving her husband and son behind, she is scorned and snubbed in society. Anna desperately clings to the status achieved through her marriage to statesmen, Karenin (Jude Law), while continuing her scandalous relationship.
As I’m not a fan of the book, it was a real treat to fall in love with the movie. Apart from the aforementioned costuming, casting the perfect actors for each character was a key part to my enjoyment. Even though it was a shame that Jude Law did not look like his usual pretty self, his quietly calm performance of the honorable and stoic husband was the perfect antidote to the desperate chaotic yearning and heady desire radiating from Knightley’s Karenina.
Primarily known for his role in KICK-ASS, Taylor-Johnson does an excellent job provoking the audience as his character covets the love of a married woman all the while an eager, eligible princess is fighting for his attention. Even before his infatuation with Anna turns physical, simply describing the chemistry between Taylor-Johnson and Knightley as steamy would be a serious understatement. I predict (and look forward to) more great films starring this young actor.
Knightley embraces the role of Anna and plays her perfectly. I love that she holds nothing back and delivers a wide gambit of emotional states. Seeing her spiral out of control with a need for Vronksy becoming nothing short of desperate is powerful and tragic. As this is the third time she’s been directed by Wright and I must commend the duo on their collaboration.
The supporting cast and side stories only add to the tragedy surrounding Anna’s choices. Key players worth mentioning are Matthew Macfayden, Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley from the Harry Potter films) and Alicia Vikander (A ROYAL AFFAIR). All are essential to the makeup of this tale and help keep the picture balanced.