Friday, December 7, 2012

Anna Karenina: Movie Review


A beautiful production that transforms Anna Karenina into a modern woman.
Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats; the play is about to begin. And thus, with the curtains drawn back, the ingenuity, creativity and brilliance of Joe Wright's “Anna Karenina” begins. By taking it out of an unforgiving landscape and placing it inside a theatre to unfold on an infinite stage, but keeping it in 1870s Russia, we have a true-to-source story that can be adapted for our modern enjoyment. 2012

Directed by: Joe Wright

Screenplay by: Tom Stoppard
Based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy

Starring: Keira Knightley, and Jude Law

Jude Law stars as Alexei and Keira Knightley stars as Anna in Joe Wright's
ANNA KARENINA, an Alliance Films release. Credit: Laurie Sparham.
Joe Wright-muse, Keira Knightley, plays the Russian aristocrat Anna Karenina. After 9 years of marriage producing only one child with the clinical but successful and important bureaucrat, Karenin (Jude Law), Anna becomes disillusioned. While visiting family in Moscow, Anna falls for the generous nature of the handsome and affluent Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Law is as cold and uncompromising as the Russian landscape while Taylor-Johnson is as sensual and smouldering as the summer-time sun. But Anna lives in an almost constant state of winter, and only one of them is able to function in a time of death. Law's minimal compassion downplaying his famous looks in a beautiful, understated subtle performance does not go unnoticed. Both men provide perfectly balanced counter-points as Anna begins to unravel.

Keira Knightley stars in ANNA KARENINA.
Costumes designed by Jaqueline Durran.
It’s a tale of love, betrayal and heart-break. And there are two significant ideas within that theme that the film manages to play up. The first being that this is timeless, Anna could be a modern woman. In fact, Anna could be any one of us; we could be Anna. The second is that a movie with devastating themes does not need to be devastating. The contradictory nature of that is incredibly astute and is presented beautifully, delicately and even humorously. It is an amazing feat to turn a story about loss into a funny, up-beat and theatrical show of life.

It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the beauty of the sets. With the camera rolling, we seamlessly move from scene to scene with the score keeping beat and keeping us in line. The entire movie is whimsical and lively; it counteracts the coldness of the Russian climate – literally, illustratively and romantically. The visuals of the theatre sets, colour-symbolic costumes and the impeccable choreography are able to move the story along with very little dialogue. I have never been so involved in a story where dialogue was only a tertiary component.
Aaron Johnson stars as Count Vronsky and Keira Knightley stars as Anna in
Joe Wright's ANNA KARENINA, an Alliance Films release. Credit: Laurie Sparham. 

Keira Knightley stars as Anna in Joe Wright's ANNA KARENINA,
an Alliance Films release. Credit: Laurie Sparham.
But “Anna Karenina” is not just about the production design; it’s about Anna. She is a marvellously complex woman. She doesn’t want her life to only be determined by love but she just doesn’t know how to live it any other way. She wants to be spontaneous, impetuous and happy – acting before she knows what she wants. She is unfortunately manic, rushing to the next stage of her life without knowing how to get there. But she’s also wondrously independent, determined to give herself what she wants, ready to dive-in head first after her heart. As Knightley said, Anna represents the best of us and the worst of us. Here she is a modern woman in modern times where we instantly connect to her but instead of fearing depression, the film gives us a sense of hope, optimism and satisfaction.