An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.
Bryce Dallas Howard
In 1874, in the Imperial Russia, the aristocratic Anna Karenina travels from Saint Petersburg to Moscow to save the marriage of her brother Prince Oblonsky, who had had a love affair with his housemaid. Anna Karenina has a cold marriage with her husband, Count Alexei Karenin, and they have a son. Anna meets the cavalry officer Count Vronsky at the train station and they feel attracted by each other. Soon she learns that Vronsky will propose Kitty, who is the younger sister of her sister-in-law Dolly. Anna satisfactorily resolves the infidelity case of her brother and Kitty invites her to stay for the ball. However, Anna Karenina and Vronsky dance in the ball, calling the attention of the conservative society. Soon they have a love affair that will lead Anna Karenina to a tragic fate. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Joe Wright briefly considered having the actors use Russian accents but later decided against it thinking it would be hard for him to assess their performances. See more »
While Anna is traveling on a train she was reading a book which was supposed to be in Russian. However, the word that appeared on the screen was in Hungarian "olajfestmény" meaning oil painting (at 32 minutes) See more »
Not quite film, not quite theatre and not quite Tolstoy; Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina" is a splendid affair, although not without considerable faults
Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina" like Olivier's "Henry V" opens as a staged performance, but instead of melting into reality, we are in for the long haul in this dilapidated doll's-house theatre. Amid ropes and pulleys, footlights and curtains, the story begins characters meander down staircases and traipse across the stage. There is a sense of the overtly theatrical the characters swirl into the action and introduce themselves (in a manner, somewhat reminiscent of Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge!" but without the musical numbers), before the set revolves and turns upon itself like a children's pop-up book. We sail between locations as diverse as a parliamentarian's office, a Moscow restaurant and the private apartments of the heroine, seamlessly and at breakneck-speed.
"Anna Karenina" the story of a doomed liaison between the titular character a wealthy, married aristocrat with a younger Count in Imperial Russia has been told countless times. Credit is due to this version's director, Mr. Joe Wright, for having the gumption to re-invent the material in such a way - to make it edgy and dynamic. Unfortunately, his vision doesn't always hold and it gets off to a shaky start. I was constantly questioning myself, as to who was playing whom and what their purpose was, at that point in the story. Tom Stoppard's script never goes in for narration, as such - or cultural and historical context of Russia, at that time so perhaps, his adaptation is slightly too smart for its own good, in that respect - but Wright's styling compounds it, by lacking discipline. We have the notion that the Russian aristocrats we're dealing with are putting on a performance, so to speak, in their day-to-day lives (hence the theatricality). In turn, we see real-life-settings like bucolic farmlands or icy plains when a character such as one of the young lovers, played by Domhnall Gleeson turns their back on this world. It's an interesting prospect, but it contradicts itself.
Don't get me wrong, though there are moments of magic the visuals are glorious (perfectly so, in places) but as Mary Poppins wisely said enough IS as good as a feast. There is a great deal of overindulgence on Wright's part and he HAS volumes of Tolstoy to get through. I think it would be somewhat foolhardy to suggest that the styling is the reason behind the story's considerable abridgement or the lack of character development but it's the gluttony of it that immediately comes to mind, when you ask yourself WHY is the film lacking, on a whole? Still, the two most effective scenes in the film ARE immensely stylised and contain little dialogue, at all the first is a ballroom scene, where the titular heroine and her lover dance together their sexual desires, their frantic and burning passion soaring along with the Dario Marianelli score (one of his most memorable, I might add). The second is a thrilling derby, with horses pounding across the stage. In addition, there are long sequences of the film, that are completely and utterly engaging there's great direction, great writing, great acting (more of that later) one simply cannot help but wonder what the film might have been, if consistency had been the name of the game.
Jude Law gives one of his greatest performances (and certainly is the standout of this film) as the monkish Alexei Karenin, Anna's husband. The casting of Aaron Taylor-Johnson, however as the Other Man casts a somewhat sour note he doesn't look vaguely like the virile sort that would attract an aristocrat's wife into becoming a mistress. It's a sulky performance and rather out-of-place. Ms. Knightley does what she can with the role but although Stoppard's script isn't giving many secrets away, Wright makes her inner turmoil a little too obvious. I wouldn't mind that too much if Knightley carried the picture, so to speak à la Greta Garbo but her part is too fragmented and the amount of time spent on the secondary characters in its place isn't satisfying enough to warrant it.
I think Joe Wright is an interesting filmmaker with "Pride and Prejudice", he injected the proceedings with a modern sensibility and as such, the end result was distinctly sparer and a little more rough-and-ready than other treatments; but authentically poignant. His "Atonement" was certainly the film that Ian McEwan's novel deserved. Will his "Anna" be remembered as the eminent adaptation of this story? I very much doubt it but I don't think that that matters much. Great works of literature don't need sterling film adaptations - for their themes are universal and ephemeral. And Joe Wright's take on those of "Anna Karenina" are the boldest and most visionary, in years.
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