Saturday, 27 April 2013

'Anna Karenina' Film Review

Director Joe Wright reunites with muse Keira Knightley for the third time (previously in Pride and Prejudice, and Atonement) in yet another costume drama. Based on the Tolstoy novel of the same name, Keira Knightley stars as the titular character, who enters into a tragic love affair with count Vronsky in 19th Century Russia high society.

Nominated for four Academy Awards, Joe Wright's take on the movie was risky. Set in a dilapidated theatre in London, the artistic move made the movie feel overall claustrophobic, but certain sequences executed an exciting choreography of dynamism and cleverness that made it work.

The pace was moderate and the drama heightened as the movie progressed, with the ending tragic yet cathartic. I liked that there are elements of symbolism and colour, especially during the iconic first dance between Karenina and Vronsky- this scene was the highlight of the entire movie, capturing emotion, sensuality, judgment- it was sublime, but after this, it lost substance.

The controversial tale was brought out through the movie in certain exchanges between Anna and Karenin which really show her struggle to break free of her loveless marriage. The character of Anna and what happens to her is really interesting. Is she right to seek true love? 

Keira Knightley- Anna Karenina
Jude Law- Karenin
Aaron Johnson- Count Vronsky
Matthew Macfayden- Oblonsky

Also stars Kelly Macdonald, Domhnall Gleeson, Emily Watson, Olivia Williams and Michelle Dockery.

Although missing out on the major awards circuit, Knightley does manage to at times bring a drama that we have not seen from her before, but ultimately resumes a pouty, coy look which is evident throughout her jerky, slightly awkward performance. That said, she wore the beautiful Oscar winning costumes with pride and carried this movie and the rest of the cast elegantly.

Joe Wright's 'Anna Karenina' is an interesting and different approach to the story which is beautifully artistic and stylish, but unfortunately feels claustrophobic and at times, confined and suffocating, much like Anna's loveless marriage. Whilst the movie manages to convey passion and drama, it is relatively mild. Watch this for the artistry, for the costume, but certainly not the substance that you would otherwise get from the original Tolstoy novel.


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