What an excellent find! I have had some misgivings about Anna Karenina on-screen adaptations - there is one I can think of that is downright embarrassing and some, while faithful to the source material one way or another, feel dated and even tedious.
But I was very happy and satisfied with this snowy, gorgeously shot adaptation. The narrative focuses evenly on Anna and Levin's individual story lines and their respective relationships - both of the characters intermittently narrate their stories and they finally feel like equals in importance to the whole Tolstoyan picture. It is refreshing to see how Levin's character is explored more thoroughly on-screen, and this version gives great justice to his search of real love with Kitty, faith with God and the meaning of life.
All of the actors hail from Western Europe and are probably not very well-known elsewhere, but they are all amazing and understand their characters well - the characters feel more human in this version than other versions, even than the book itself! Italian actress Vittoria Puccini is fantastic as Anna and not only does she fit the look, but she effortlessly tackles Anna's many paradoxes. Count Vronsky, played by the dark and very handsome Santiago Cabrera, brims with charisma and is a much-needed palate cleanser after a string of insipid Vronskys in previous adaptations. I suppose it is not a hyperbole that him and Vittoria make the most beautiful and sensuous Anna/Vronsky pairing on-screen to date.
What I also appreciate in this version is how the role of Dolly, played splendidly by Carlotta Natoli, is much more prominent as a character here than in previous versions and is given the credit that is due. She is not merely reduced to being Stiva's distressed wife, but a loving sister to Kitty, an active stimulus to Levin and Kitty's relationship, a loyal friend to Anna and a woman who knows when to stand up to her philandering husband.
In short, this is a very successful retelling of Anna Karenina that is rich with characterization and one which I really enjoyed from start to finish. Now I know which adaptation of the book I would recommend!
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