Movie Review: Anna Karenina

Keira Knightly plays Anna in the latest film adaptation of Anna Karenina.

Keira Knightly plays Anna in the latest film adaptation of Anna Karenina.

How many of you are familiar with the novel Anna Karenina? I’m sure a lot of you are. Mostly because it was required reading in high school in a lot of schools. Did you know that Anna Karenina has been adapted to the cinema a total of thirteen times including twice starring Greta Garbo? Now Anna Karenina returns to the big screen again directed by Joe Wright and with Keira Knightly as Anna. The question is can you make a movie that’s been done twelve times before winsome to present crowds?

The films prime focus is on Anna living a privileged life thanks to her marriage to a government official but she is unhappy in her marriage. It showcases her fling with cavalry officer Count Vronsky whom she falls for at the train station which starts a fling that not only threatens her marriage but her social status and mostly chance of ever seeing her son again whom she dearly loves. She continues to see the count and even bear his child only to have her heart broken and ultimately fated to a tragic end.
 
The films subplot is on Kitty, Anna’s 18 year-old sister-in-law, and Kostya who prefers country life to the aristocracy. Kostya proposes to Kitty but she wants to have her fun at her young age, especially since she’s being pursued by other men like Count Vronsky. She becomes heartbroken when Vronsky leaves her for Anna and Kostya if left for months to labor in the country yards. It isn’t until months later that he is able to confront Kitty and convey his feelings to her. It is then that Kitty and Kostya were meant to be.

The point of the movie wasn’t simply to tell the story of Anna Karenina again but to tell it in a creative and styled manner. At the beginning you could tell that this would be a movie with a different twist to telling the novel. I mean a novel that’s already been adapted to the big screen twelve times before needs to have the latest adaptation anything but redundant. It presents the scenarios of Anna as a stage and frequently going from scene to scene as going from stage to stage. It creates a lot of the acting and dancing in a stand-out method, even quirky and eccentric. It gives the audience the impression of what’s really going on even if they’re dancing or ‘not really’ having sex.

I’m sure this unique twist is what the director and scriptwriter had in mind. Both of which have already established themselves. Joe Wright has been renowned for directing Pride And Prejudice, Atonement, The Soloist and Hanna. Tom Stoppard has established himself in writing with a multitude of plays and has even won an Oscar for writing the screenplay of Shakespeare In Love. The film’s styling and sometimes quirky way of playing out the novel would remind many of Moulin Rouge. The only thing is it makes it look like they’re trying too hard to make this adaptation stand out and be original. There are many times in which the quirkiness and the stylings don’t work their best and we’re unsure whether the film is trying to portray a message, tell the story or just simply put on a show.

One thing that went well was the acting. Keira again delivers a good performance even though I’ve seen better from her. She’s no stranger to Joe Wright’s movies as she played the leading female in Pride And Prejudice and Atonement. The latter earned her first and only Oscar nomination. Jude Law was also impressive even if a backdrop character. This is the most mature role I’ve seen Aaron Taylor-Johnson perform in and he was good. The cinematography by Seamus McGarvey was not 100%. But the music by Dario Marianelli fit the movie well.
 
The recent release of Anna Karenina tries to not be your typical film adaptation of the legendary novel but it tries too hard to be creative and unique. It becomes evident when the creative elements just don’t mix. 
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One response

  1. […] ART DIRECTION: Sarah Greenwood – Anna Karenina BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Claudio Miranda – The Life Of Pi BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Jacqueline Durran – […]

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