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|Index||232 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Watching Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina" I frequently caught myself
observing something I think cinema too frequently has the habit of
doing. That something is cinema's habit of using a script to have
actors deliver lines or perform actions which rather stridently display
and describe an essential problem which the characters are dealing with
as if the characters are aware that they exist in a movie and want to
be sure that no extra hints are needed for what they may seem to assume
is a slightly slow audience to be able to follow the plot. I don't
believe we need to be told again and again about the peril and loss of
station that Anna will suffer if she abandons her marriage in pursuit
of her relationship with Vronsky. That idea should be shown through
nonverbal means if at all possible.
I like and admire "Anna Karenina." If there is a major flaw to the movie beyond the tendency noted above, the flaw is that the movie does not seem to be realized decisively as an attempt to recreate a piece of literature on screen or as a unique movie that simply uses literature as a piece of source material on which the director has developed or attempted to develop a new idea. I have not read the novel and so cannot comment on scenes and characters which may have been removed or changed for this movie. Mr. Wright uses many devices to keep us aware that he does not intend for the world of the movie to be a naturalistic recreation of nineteenth century Russia. Constantly the mise en scene involves theatrical prop pieces existing in what might otherwise be a natural setting. Time seems to have no constant rhythm, but to lurch forward on one occasion and languish on another occasion without warning. The world Mr. Wright creates feels something like a dream world and something like a science fiction universe. This creation is in and of itself engaging enough for me to make the movie worthwhile.
There is a temptation to say that Mr. Wright sacrifices elements he might have explored more thoroughly but I believe the drama at the center of the movie is sufficient enough to sustain the length of the film. I also think the performances, especially that of Keira Knightly in latter scenes give the movie a kind of cool psychological depth that might be missing from other movies.
I like the movie. It reminds me of some other movies like "Blade Runner", "Dune", "Black Swan", and maybe some De Palma or Tim Burton. "Anna Karenina" feels very much like a director's movie to me. I like directors.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have probably seen every Anna Karenia movie that was put out. Each
actress playing the role has always done a slightly different portrayal
of the character. Long time ago, I read this novel for a Russian Lit
class and I have always likened it to the "Scarlett Letter". Same story
about a woman who has a love affair and dares to challenge the morals
of society. This movie seems to be a very different but neurotic
adaptation of the other Anna Karenia movies.
First, it opens up with a artistic arrangement by showing the props and scenes from a stage performers view. In other words, "all the world is a stage and we are the actors". A interesting take, but if you are first greeted by it without knowing the message, it can be highly disarming or confusing to the viewer.
The acting is good. Keira Knightly who I've seen play nothing but pirate wenches gives a very passionate performance of an impulsive maybe slightly neurotic Anna Karenia. Her passionate affair with Vronsky saves her from a boring marriage but it drives her into paranoiac madness as well. Jude Law, with whom I was surprised to see in the role did a fine job as the cuckold husband, Karenen. I sympathized with his character as a husband who lacked any gravit tass whatsoever but followed his regimented lifestyle to the beat of a drum. But he loved and respected his wife in his own fashion. The other supporting characters who were to give a vision of a "succesful life" or existence added a fine spice to the social commentary of Tolstoy and Imperial Russian society.
The costumes and music are quite pleasing and beautiful. Although, the ballroom scene which may have showed the frivolity and hypocrisy of proper Russian upper class society was slightly annoying and drawn out. But the movie should be nominated for costume designs and musical score.
Russian Literture and Tolstoy lovers may enjoy the film, but I fear others who have not read the novel will be bored by it. But see it anyway--classic lit should not be missed!
Anna Karenina (2012)
*** (out of 4)
Often filmed tale of Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley), a Russian woman who throws away her spot in royalty to be with the man she loves (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), which causes all sorts of harm. This story has been told so many times that it's understandable that director Joe Wright would want to do something different in its telling. The film mixes all sorts of style in that sometimes it appears that the actors are appearing on stages, sometimes as if the characters are in a fairy tale with beautiful backgrounds and at other times we see that the sets are all small, mechanical ones (especially the train shots). I'll admit that the first thirty-minutes or so of this film had me disconnected because all of this style was simply killing the characters. You really couldn't take your mind off of this weird style and it ended up costing the characters. Finally, around the hour mark or so, the style starts to slow down and this is where the story really came to life and the film took off. I thought the film really picked up to the point where you could invest your feelings with these characters and even though you know how it's going to end, the power is still there. A lot of credit can go to Knightley who once again delivers emotions with ease. Taylor-Johnson appears to be getting some slack from folks but I thought he was fine. As was Jude Law as the husband and Alicia Vikander who really stands out in the role of Kitty. The costume design, music score and production design are all flawless. Technically speaking this here is quite impressive and has a dream like quality to it. Once that style isn't 100% in your face it makes the film so much better.
I loved this movie. The acting was very superb, in my opinion. Although I believe Jude Law was not his best, like in Sleuth. The costumes and set designs were breathtaking. I have not read Tolstoy's novel, nor have I seen any of the prior versions. However, I love period piece movies, like The Other Boleyn girl, and novel adaptations. I particularly liked the way the sets were like a theater stage, changing from one scene to the next in a neatly flowing manner. The character development was done well, even though I heard after watching that some story lines from the novel were removed, probably to keep the movie within two hours. But it was done well enough for me to see the pain and anguish develop as Anna spirals more and more towards insanity. I believe the ending was the most obvious. A tragic love story - but the best ones always are.
it is really a masterpiece ...you can enjoy the drama ... enjoy the classy acting especially Jude law ... and of course the director .. i think what put the magic in this work is the unique way of directing that work .. if you want some motion , fight and gangster don't even think to watch this movie ( try another underestimating masterpiece leon the professional) .. if you want to enjoy directing to enjoy acting and also enjoy the moral dilemma .. and how you try to have sympathy with anna and you fail .. and even you think at last the best solution for her is what she did ... even before she did it ... you are welcome in that movie
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It occurred to me while watching this nifty version of Tolstoy's novel,
which I haven't read in many years, that if you stripped away the
"philosophy", the idealism, the issue of conformity, the social
context, the tragic ending, and a couple of other things, what you're
left with is a Harlequin love novel.
What I mean is, a respectable socialite woman is married to some sort of bureaucratic functionary, falls in love with a dashing younger man, endures all sorts of strenuous suffering, and jumps under a train.
Fortunately, you can't just discard all the other stuff because the romance is just an armature around which the writer has skillfully molded all that other stuff. Tom Stoppard did the screenplay, which is exceptional. The central issue is probably that dealt with by the sociologist David Riesman in "The Lonely Crowd." Looking at the conformity in growing suburbs of the 1950s, he saw it as a matter of tension between "other-direct" and "inner-directed" people or, in other words, between those who are driven to observe all the proper norms (like Karenin) and those who follow their "internal gyroscopes", like Anna and Vronsky. A dowager insults Anna in the opera by saying, "I could be a friend if you broke the law. You broke the rules."
Keira Knightly, as Anna, is fine for the part. She's beautiful and sexy, of course, but she has a small symmetrical mouth that, when she grins, seems filled with prominent teeth. As she loses her wits, the grin becomes fixed and the teeth positively desperate. Make up has done a good job on her in her various emotional states. At the beginning, she's glamorous. By the end she's a pale, tortured, tangled mess.
I rather liked Jude Law as Karenin. Okay, he's a little stiff, dull, and unimaginative, but he's not cruel or pompous. That's an improvement over Basil Rathbone's Karenin in the 1948 version with Vivian Leigh.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is Count Vronsky, who looks a bit like Gene Wilder and is always described as "dashing," probably because he wears uniforms and races horses. He's a nice enough character -- not a philandering home wrecker -- but, like Anna, he's ruled by his emotions. He may lose the respect of Society but he remains true to Anna, despite her delusions of his schtupping some other good-looking babe (or the babe's mother).
I gather the direction by Joe Wright has been needled for looking like a stage play. I have no idea where that criticism came from. There are a few scenes that are framed by an ornate proscenium, complete with lime lights. The last shot is of a theater's interior but the seats have been replaced by a sea of grass and wildflowers. However, there are no photographic tricks involved. No bodies falling in slow motion, no horrifying computer-generated images, no wobbling camera, only classic move-making techniques.
The most stylized scenes come towards the end, reflections of Anna's madness, and they're effective. Tracking Vronsky to the railway station where she expects him to meet his fictional lover, Anna walks through sweeping tableaux in which a crowd of strangers is frozen in place and the architecture looks like the inside of a timber processing plant. It's spookier than any Twilight Zone episode.
That last scene -- the theater filled with grass and wildflowers -- I think is meant to suggest the happiness found by a secondary character, Levin, who has retired with his new wife to the country and now works in the wheat fields with the men his father used to own, the ex Serfs. If these illiterate rustics ever spoke the way they do in the movie, if they ever voiced such deep questions about God and fate, then they're a lot more inquisitive than our own modern illiterate rustics.
Have you read the novel? I did. At school, and then later, and now
again. And you know what? The film conveys Tolstoy's ideas of women,
love and society even better than he himself.
The theater - "All the world's a stage..."
People - Stiva, Anna, Karenin, Dolly, Levin, everybody - they stepped in and I welcomed them with all my heart.
Vronsky... well, I was embarrassed looking at the posters (blond? that young? that sweetie?), but I believed him at once at his "Dance with me".
The dance - it tells everything. Hands, smiles, glances... I'd love to perform it at my wedding.
Actually the whole movie is a great whirlpool of music, sounds and people, flowing from one to another like a wide Russian river! Amazing!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was reminded that I was watching a free screening. Keira Knightley needs to apologize to everyone who watched this film and stop acting in period dramas from now on. Her casting as Anna Karenina is not only an insult because even on paper it not only looks bad but is also offensive, if she didn't keep saying St. Petersburg, Moscow and Russia you would have thought that she was playing a typical privileged snooty British brat in England like she usually does. I have to give it to the supporting cast because they delivered and did what they were supposed to be doing, it's not their fault that the lead actress sucked thus causing all their efforts to amount to a monster flop at the box office. They should have cast Ruth Wilson as Anna and left Knightley out of the film completely.
For a movie with a more than beautifully put together cast and more than amazing trailer, this has to be one of the year's worst films. Even though the script isn't too bad, the story is hard to pick up on because immediately the movie is set to seem like a play. If there's one thing I know is that most people now aren't very fond of plays and I'm one of those people. It was very boring, the story if there was one was difficult to follow much like the way it was directed. For Keira Knightley to be playing such a wondrous role in Seeking A Friend, this has to be her worst film since The Jacket. I rated this movie a five simply because of the production, the way the scenery just looks, and then the cast but other than that, this movie is a definite don't watch.
I had to turn this movie off after fifteen minutes, I couldn't take any more. The weird staging was bad enough. I kept waiting for the cast to break out into a production number. When I saw the clerks stamping papers in unison, I thought I was watching a Mel Brooks production. Seriously? This is as bad as it gets in Hollywood. When I think of all the starving actors that could have been fed with the money they spent on this flop, I cringe. And Keira Knightly is on the top of that list! (Somebody please take her to lunch.)I have enjoyed every production of Anna Karenina from the silent version to Masterpiece Theater. So when I saw the trailer for this production I was champing at the bit. Fortunately,in retrospect, I missed a chance to see it in the theater and resolved to wait for the DVD release. It took me a few minutes to figure out the quirky theatrical staging and kept waiting for the real story to begin. It soon became obvious that this was some kind of avant garde cinema experiment going horribly awry and I reached for the stop button. If you like pretentious, over-stylized film-making, this is the film for you. If you're looking for an epic period drama, better look elsewhere.
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