At the Movies: Anna Karenina

We didn’t read a lot of Leo Tolstoy in the lit class at Stockton High School. So I wasn’t that familiar with”Anna Karenina” before sitting down to watch the latest film version.

I can’t say director Joe Wright’s version sold me on the story, but the movie is almost worth watching for its unique visual flair.

Set in the upper echelons of Russian high society in the 19th century, Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) is the wife of stern and aloof Karenin (Jude Law). Together they have a young son.

Anna becomes involved in an affair with Count Vronsky¬†(Aaron Taylor-Johnson), despite what seemed to be a total lack of chemistry between them. This of course ruins Anna’s marriage and of course Russian high society won’t tolerate Anna and Vronsky’s relationship and can true love truly conquer all and why do I feel like I just got suckered into watching a Russian Jane Austen movie? I thought Tolstoy was supposed to be classy.

It’s not just that I feel I’ve seen this movie before many times, but am I supposed to like the central character? Anna comes across here as totally selfish and self-centered. I can see why she probably lost interest in her stuffy husband but by the end he was the one who got all my sympathy.

On the plus side, it’s a very good-looking film. The costumes and sets are exquisite and Wright does a lot of clever choreography and scene transitions. Throughout the film the story is presented as if it’s taking place on a stage.

But overall the style can’t make up for the lack of substance. The story is thin and the characters are not well-defined. In the beginning it was hard to follow who was who and how the characters were related. If you’re a big fan of this type of historical drama you may like it but I doubt it would appeal outside that circle.

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One response to “At the Movies: Anna Karenina

  1. I never saw the big draw of Anna Karenina but did read it a couple of years ago. The book didn’t make me very sympathetic towards Anna either.

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