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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In pre-revolution Russia, the rich try to make matches among themselves. Thus, Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) was married off at eighteen to Mr. Karenin, a much admired and wealthy philanthropist. Yet, although she is very attached to their only child, a son, the union is not a happy one. Karenin is a cold fish of a person, never having heard the phrase "charity begins at home". So, as the world thinks him a most admirable gentleman, he is barely civil and never affectionate to his young, beautiful wife. One day, Anna, who resides in St. Petersburg, is summoned to Moscow for a crisis in her brother Oblonsky's house. This charming but careless man (Matthew Macfadyen) has been caught cheating AGAIN, this time with the governess. His wife Dolly, herself the mother of many children, is beside herself with grief and betrayal. Anna persuades her sister-in-law that Oblonsky does indeed love her. The two reconcile and the world, accepting his infidelity, forgives. While in Moscow, Anna attends a ball, where Princess Kitty, a very lovely younger sister of Dolly, is about to choose a husband. A man named Levin (Domhnall Glesson) asks first, for he is much in love, despite being a country landowner who likes it rustic. But, alas, Kitty is blinded by the conniving charms of Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and is waiting for this man's proposal. Levin, stung, soon returns to his home. Poor, poor Kitty is the mantra to come. Vronsky spies Anna and even though he knows she is married to another, he pursues her hotly. At first, Anna rejects him decidedly, although secretly she is glad to be admired. But, Vronsky follows her back to St. P and continues his chase. Karenin, hearing gossip, warns Anna frostily about the costs of adultery, including estrangement from her beloved son. Yet, this criticism only makes Anna resolved to accept Vronsky's attentions. Soon, Anna is overwhelmed with a relationship that is passionate and exciting, very unlike her marriage. Yet, in contrast to society's acceptance of her brother Oblonsky's unfaithfulness, Anna is shunned by her former circle of relatives and friends. Vronsky, too, shows a mean streak when he acquires a white racehorse, enters a competition, and promptly rides badly, breaking the horse's back. But, instead of cuddling the animal, he beats it until someone stops him. What a look into his inner self! Thus, with Anna separated from everyone, including her precious son, is there a way to lasting happiness? Ditto, for the lovely Kitty, who longs to be married? Thie beautiful and tragic film brings Tolstoy's classic novel to the screen, with ambition and skill. Its introductory technique is to place the tale as a theater production, with the initial players on stage. This is continued at intervals, but at other times, the story unfolds as a typical movie. The director, Joe Wright, could be both lauded and faulted for such a risky move. It doesn't quite work, my opinion, but is not a huge distraction. All of the actors are wonderful, with Knightley bringing her all to Anna's lovely but conflicted character. Naturally, it is very clear that women, at this historic period, are treated unfairly in the court of public opinion and the church. But, that's the way it was. The sets and costumes are to die for, sumptuous and dazzling. The pace, too, seems quite fine, as is the juxtaposition between the doomed love of Anna and Vronsky and the eventual happiness of Kitty and Levin. Dear film fans, don't miss out on this vibrant, interesting but sad movie. It should be one the "must-see" list for the coming year.
This movie would only suit fans of costume fantasies, twirling waltzes, pretty boys and that awful Keira Keightley. Other punters will be insufferably bored by the storyline, dizzy from the endless, rapid-fire dance and love sequences and the terrible music soundtrack. Once again Miss Keira proves to be the worst contemporary actress on the silver screen. She uses peculiar facial expressions, sucking in her cheeks and exposing a phony smile that seem so false. Her affected speech and mannerisms ruin any movie. In this day and age, is there any serious interest in the narrative of the whining, bored, spoiled housewife that decides she wants a root.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Anna Karenina: Tragedy of a Crazy Love
Antonio Alberto Castro
Sao Paulo, Brazil
The most recent version of the film Anna Karenina, which has been shown in the cinemas of Sao Paulo City, Brazil, was a production from the year 2012 and the story is based on the novel of the same name by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. This is an incredible story of a love affair that happened in 1874 after a journey was made by Anna Karenina (Keira Knightly), wife of the minister of the Imperial Russian government Alexey Karenin (Jude Law) from Saint Petersburg to Moscow to mitigate the suffering of her sister-in-law, who was experiencing difficulties in her relationship with her husband. There she was introduced to the young official of the Russian Imperial Army, the Count Vronsky, who was impressed with her beauty and began to court Anna Karenina. At first Vronsky was rejected in his attempt to get close to Anna, but on his insistence she gave way without any resistance because she had fall deeply in love with him.
After the excited feelings calmed down between her sister-in-law and her brother, she decided to return to Petersburg where she lived with her son and her husband Karenin, but Vronsky decided to go to Petersburg too. There at the high society events they met very often and went to the same places such as the horse races, at the opera, at the balls and the parties frequented by the Russian aristocrats. The indiscretion of the relationship between Anna Karenina and Vronsky began to attract the attention of their friends and their husband's, which served as the pretext for Karenin to ask for a divorce and to hinder her from seeing their son. Anna was profoundly affected with the adoption of these drastic measures and began to suffer and at the same time to refuse pursue her relationship with Vronsky. One night pressed by Karenin about her love affair she answered with the arguments she was tired and the only thing she wanted was to sleep. The contradictions of Anna Karenina became more and more evident because at the same time she considered her husband to be a good man and did not want to be separated from her son, but on the other hand she did not want to think about the possibility of abandoning her beloved Vronsky. But finally Vronsky and Anna Karenina decided to have a baby and to go to live away from Petersburg. In the period of her pregnancy Anna insisted that Karenin accept her new baby, but he definitely rejected that proposal. Involved in a wave of troubles Anna began to ingest morphine and as result of that terrible crisis she lost her second baby. After these disagreeable events Vronsky decided to return back to Moscow to get married to a woman, who was suggested by his mother. The moral aspects of the film were very clear when during the discussions amongst the female friends of Anna some of them said that she "broke the rules", "she broke the law", which reflected the opinion of the author of the novel. In comparison with the version of Anna Karenina of the year 1948 in which the principal roles were played Vivien Leigh and Ralph Richardson, the version of 2012 is much more complex. Differing from the film of 1948 the last one being in color. The sound-track features traditional Russian themes creating an Russian atmosphere but in as much an artificial and theatrical way. The color is vague, which helped to create an ambiance intensively dramatic and ambiguous. That last version of Anna Karenina directed by Joe Wright added an episode, which established a parallel between a marriage in a family of the Russian aristocracy and a family of middle-class, whose head of the family got married to an ordinary young woman. He worked together with his peasants cutting the hay. Here, once more, Leon Tolstoy expressed his world view. The epilogue of this story is that a young and beautiful woman decided to throw herself under a train, which ran at high speed. This was the consequence of a crazy and irremediable passion from a first glance between Anna Karenina and the Count Vronsky. It is worthwhile to see these two versions and to make your own comparisons.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is an entry called "storyline" on this movie's main IMDb page and
it very well sums up what the story and the movie are about. This is
based on a famous, old novel and has been done many times. So how do
you do a modern version that has an interesting, novel approach?
Director Joe Wright, who did one of my favorites, "Hanna", and also "Atonement", hit upon an idea that for me works wonderfully. Wright himself grew up with a puppeting background and shot this movie almost in that style, with real actors of course. Instead of seeking out real locations for most of the story, he had a large set built which looked like an old, somewhat dilapidated, Russian theater, but without seats fastened to the floor in the large open area.
Except for a few excursions out into the real world, almost all of the movie is shot in various parts of this theater, using the stage or lobby or stairs or open areas with appropriate furniture and props to suggest a bedroom or board room or office of paper-pushers. Even an entire horse race is staged in the theater. For scenes which required an audience in the theater, portable seats were brought in. All-in-all a great idea.
As Wright explains in the DVD commentary, having most of the movie filmed in the theater setting serves as a reminder that what we are seeing isn't real, it is a story. And it also serves as a metaphor for life, where people are often going about their daily lives pretending to be something they are not, thus really being in a theater.
Set in 1874 Imperial Russia, Jude Law is the serious aristocrat Karenin. Keira Knightley is his wife Anna Karenina . We perceive that he loves her, and certainly has strict core values which include marital fidelity. The problem arises when Anna needs to travel to help her brother with his domestic issue caused by infidelity with the governess, and on this trip Anna meets the young cavalry officer Aaron Taylor-Johnson Count Vronsky, who in spite of Anna's objections pursues her until she finally gives in, and that begins the end of her marriage and ultimately her life.
All the actors are very effective. I have been a Knightly fan ever since I first saw her in the first "Pirates" movie and she is superb here.
All the extras on the DVD are interesting and worthwhile. The one I enjoyed most, and is quite novel, is an 8-minute time-lapse. A camera was set up in a high far corner position when the set was being built, and it remained there through the entire filming of the movie. So, in 8 minutes you can see what all went on, the changes made in the floor or the props as scene requirements changed, actors coming in, scenes being filmed, and dead time when nothing was going on. I found that watching this time-lapse video right after watching the movie was a nice treat to complete my viewing experience. And serves as a final punctuation that it is fiction, a movie for entertainment.
English screenwriter and director Joe Wright's fifth feature film which
was written by British screenwriter and playwright Tom Stoppard, is an
adaptation of a novel from 1877 by 19th and 20th century Russian author
Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910). It premiered in the Special Presentations
section at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival in 2012, was
shot on location in Russia and England and at Shepperton Studios in
England and is a UK production which was produced by producers Eric
Fellner, Tim Bevan and Paul Webster. It tells the story about a Russian
woman named Anna Arkadyevna Karenina who lives with her husband named
Count Aleksei Aleksandrovich Karenin who is a Christian minister and
their son named Sergei "Seryozha" Alexeyich Karenin in Saint
Petersburg, Russia. Anna is on her way to visit her brother named
Prince Stepan "Stiva" Arkadyevich Oblonsky and his wife named Darya
"Dolly" Alexandrovna Oblonskaya who are going through a marital crises
due to Anna's brothers' conduct, and at a train station in Moscow she
meets a bachelor named Count Aleksei Kirillovich Vronsky who makes a
pivotal impression on her.
Intimately and engagingly directed by English filmmaker Joe Wright, this finely tuned fictional tale and remake which is narrated from multiple viewpoints though mostly from the main character's viewpoint, draws a multifaceted and heartrending portrayal of an aristocratic socialite's socially unsuited romance with a cavalry officer, her relationship with her less romantic and morally rigorous spouse and her spouse's brother from the countryside named Konstantin Dmitrievich Levin's pursuit to marry a woman named Princess Ekatarina "Kitty" Alexandrovna Shcherbatskaya. While notable for it's colorful and mostly interior milieu depictions, sterling cinematography by Irish cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, production design by production designer Sarah Greenwood, costume design by English costume designer Jacqueline Durran, make-up by make-up artist and hairstylist Ivana Primorac and use of colors and light, this character-driven, dialog-driven and narrative-driven story about adultery, social distinctions, social conventions, social views, religious views and gender distinctions depicts several connected studies of character and contains a great instrumental score by Italian composer Dario Marianelli.
This modestly sensual, nuanced, dramatic though not overly melodramatic and prominently theatrical period piece which is set in Imperial Russia in 1874 during a time of social change and where a privileged married woman and mother goes against the norms of society by allowing herself to act in accordance with her heart's desires and accepts the costs of her decision, is impelled and reinforced by it's cogent narrative structure, substantial character development, pace which is rhythmic like a dance, interrelated stories, versatile perspectives, humorous tone, understated tragic undertones, visual flair, abrupt editing and the involving acting performances by English actress Keira Knightly, English actors Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Matthew Macfadyen, Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson and Swedish actress Alicia Vikander. An epic, atmospheric, literary, historic and fairy-tale like love-story and a fine homage to a renowned literary work which gained, among numerous other awards, the Academy Award for Best Costume Design Jacqueline Durran at the 85th Academy Awards in 2013.
Diane and I attended this sumptuous movie two days ago and the memory of it still haunts. Diane is the literary half of our team and since she had reread the entire book some months ago was drawn to the viewing. I on the other hand have never read (shame) Tolstoy's masterpiece but I wanted to see what has drawn people to the book and then its incantations as a movie. I loathe feudalism and anybody's monarchism (including the Brit's) so seeing why Communism happened was a vision that I knew was right. Keira Knightly has been lauded for her recreation of the lead role and very rightly so because it seemed that she was rarely off screen: the movie was her and if she blew it, she surely didn't, then the movie would have fallen. I, however, was mesmerized by the costumes and (at least to my eye) the accuracy of the interiors as well as the exteriors dominated by the old steamer trains. Visually the film is amazing and should be seen for that reason alone. Diane, who knows the book, attests to the accuracy of the characterization. Her major comment and that is not a detraction was that the screenplay modified sections of the book considerably because they were longer and too detailed for the screenplay. She said that it in no way minimized the impact of the film. I think that people who know the book will enjoy the accuracy of the movie and those like me who have not read the book will still love the movie because of the great costumes and photography.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
visually this movie is great.i liked the costumes also,and i believe Jude law did a great job here depicting Annas' husband.as far as i am concerned this is pretty much all that i liked in this movie.honestly i was expecting more.nothing from the book directors (and actors) couldn't get right on the screen.when i first saw the actor who was playing Vronsky on the screen i knew this movie isn't going in the right direction.he was simply not the best actor for this movie,maybe i had in my head completely different picture of Anna and vronsky but these two just didn't meet my expectations.role of Anna karenina was also not well played.i didn't get nothing of what i was expecting-love,lust,embarrassment and so many other emotions that the lead characters experience in the book.i didn't care for what is going to happen with Anna and vronsky it was forced and with no depth really,just pretty pictures.and emotionless played.except Jude law who did pretty good job. i was completely disappointed with this movie and i don't recommend it.better to watch older versions of this movie if you are expecting to experience a little of Tolstoys' Anna karenina.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
You either love or hate Anna Karenina. Set in the late 19th century,
Anna Karenina is one of the most elite and astonishing young women of
Russia's high society and married to Alexi Karenin (Jude Law), a well
to do gentleman with kind eyes yet an old fashioned, stern demeanor
towards her. Everything is fine and dandy until Anna to visit her
brother and sister-in-law in Moscow and stumbles upon Count Alexi
(Nowhere Boy's Aaron Taylor Johnson), dressed up in a dashing white
officer uniform that leaves a lasting impression.
Up until that point I'm with Anna. I understand that she's a young, pretty lady feels trapped in a cold, loveless marriage so some flirting is excusable. As the story develops, Anna comes back to her husband without falling into any sexual escapades, just harmless stares and chance encounters with the young officer. However, Count Alexi won't give up until he gets Anna, one way or another and that's where things get really complicated.
I love the way in which Joe Wright sets every scene inside a theatre, as if we are witnesses of a stage play in motion. We see sets being lifted, crew moving props left and right, changing the whole scenery in a split moment right in front of the camera, making you feel part of a live audience. And I loved every minute of it. I felt as if I was part of the production and had me anticipating where they would take us next.
I'm particularly fond of the waltz scene during a ball in which Anna and Count Alexi engage in dance, in front of dozen of wondering eyes, until the crowd disappears. It's such a powerful and intimate performance, such an explosive chemistry that we understand why Anna does what she does next and gives in to her desires that cost her her marriage, her home, her reputation. I give the movie props for originality and great costumes, I hope we get more directors as bold and artsy as Joe Wright who, by the way, directed Keira Knighley before in Atonement and Pride and Prejudice. There is a bit of an obsession with Keira and her director though, almost overkill, to the point where it seems as if we're watching another of her lush Chanel commercial in motion.
Where the story falls for me is when Anna Karenina gets way too obsessed with her lover to the point that she loses all self control and regard for anyone but herself. Not only does her poor husband learn about the affair but he also forgives her and gives her numerous chances to fix her cheating ways. He warns her that being a divorcée in this society is unforgivable and she's pretty much signing her own death sentence. Yet she keeps the affair going until she gets pregnant and pretends that she can have both her husband and her lover hold hands, you heard right, hold hands, people!!! Sorry, Anna, but you cannot have your cake and eat it, too!!! That's where I drew the line with her. I could care less whether she later gets dissed by everyone while attending a horse race featuring Count Alexi as one of the riders. Everyone stares at her with disdain and disapproval. I ended up rooting for Mr. Karenin from that moment forward and could really care less about his selfish wife.
The story, written by Leo Tolstoy, has been heralded as the most beautiful love story ever written and I must agree with that statement. Love has so many faces that we see here as in the love profused by two passionate lovers, the love in Karenin's eyes when he watches over his children, even if one of them is not even his, the love in the parallel story of Levin and Kitty whose love grows as Anna Karenina's deteriorates. The love of a lover. The love of a parent. The love of a friend. Love that conquers all obstacles, a love that is blind, a love that is pure.
Remember that scene early in Inception where Leonardo di Caprio and
Ellen Page are sitting at a sidewalk cafe as he explains how his dream
technology works? He points out that in a dream you never question the
time, place, or circumstances in which you find yourself, you just
accept them as normal. Suddenly windows start exploding, pavement
buckles, the streets of Paris start curving over their heads, and you
realize that the entire sequence has played out just the way he
described it. You, sitting in the audience, never questioned how they
got to that cafe in the 1st place, you just took it for granted.
The reason Christopher Nolan was able to pull this off so deftly was that we bring the same short-cut sensibility with us to the movies. We see a person in an office, a taxi, a restaurant, and an apartment in quick succession but don't want to be bored with the tedium of actually getting from one of those locales to the next, so we gladly accept the cinematic convention of just jump-cutting from scene to scene.
The most recent (of many) productions of Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy's classic novel of a high-society scandal in doomed imperial Russia circa 1890, reveals some of this artifice to the inquisitive eye. Much of the film appears to be set on an actual theater stage, but characters walk on and off that stage to what appears to be the real world or saunter backstage to have it turn into a train station. Much of it is stilted and artificial such as all the other dancers freezing in position during the Platonic ideal of a ballroom waltz (with heavy swing-dance styling), as Anna and Vronsky swirl among them. The extent of privilege of the Russian noble classes is underlined by the way in which the various counts and dukes just casually hold out a hand, expecting out of habit that a drink or the next piece of paperwork will be instantly placed there by an obsequious lackey, or holding out an arm while doing a 360, never questioning that the office suit coat will be removed by the left-hand lackey while the evening jacket is being simultaneously slipped on by the right-hand one. And director Joe Wright cuts the audience no expositional slack whatsoever in introducing the characters or keeping their various nicknames straight (and Russians have lots of nicknames); you just have to pick up who's who on your own.
The costuming is sumptuous and seems a lock for this year's Oscar in that category. However, I was bemused that, shortly after leaving the Sundance Theater, I swung by the Middleton Marriott to drop off some fliers at TeslaCon, a steampunk immersion convention, and found myself walking into the kind of artificial environment Wright had created, with congoers all self-costumed nearly as well as the best Hollywood could produce.
All of this style and metapresentation comes at a price, however, and the price is the humanity of the characters. Due to the mode of presentation, we can never suspend our disbelief long enuf to start thinking of them as real people; they remain actors in a play, and we're never allowed to forget it.
Keira Knightley is radiant as Anna, and Jude Law is agonizingly prim, principled, and earnest as Karenin (and we can't help but feel serious empathy for him, despite learning that his parliamentary maneuverings represent the worst form of bigotry), but I was disappointed in Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Vronsky. He seemed too effete and foppish and not nearly dashing enuf to win Anna's heart at first glance. But then, as he remarked, "you can't ask why about love."
This version of AK will certainly be remembered more for its staging than for its story. Perhaps that's excusable, since the story has been told so many times before, and often well and beautifully, but it's a shame that we were reduced to thinking of it as a necessary nuisance getting in the way of the stagecraft.
If you want a modern color version watch the 2012 Sophie Marceau
version set to sumptuous Tchaikovsky music and stunningly filmed on
location in Russia.
This 2012 version is terrible. The theater setting is absurd. It's so limiting and claustrophobic to have an artificial stage setting. The modern music is incongruous and doesn't fit the setting.
What a waste of a talented cast. Keira is beautiful but a bit too high strung for the role. But the major miscasting is with Jude Law and Aaron Johnson. Jude is too young and vital for Karenin - it should have been someone middle aged and stuffy. Aaron Johnson looks clownish with the blonde hair. Why didn't they just leave his hair brown? He is also too young and not manly enough for Vronsky. He looks ill at ease in his uniform and a bit adolescent. Someone slightly older and more intense would have been better.
Terrible screenplay, direction and casting. The dance sequence is so ugly and not romantic or elegant. The horse race indoors is just so silly. Don't watch this it will spoil your image of Anna Karenina.
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