Anna Karenina – A Review by Salty Kernel, Dara Shashoua
Firstly let me begin by saying that this film was nothing like I had expected.
I had expected a visual treat, but not to the level that this film achieved.
Anna Karenina is the epic novel about doomed love by Leo Tolstoy. It was written in 1873 and is one of the most admired novels in world literature. It is the story of married aristocrat and socialite Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) and her tragic affair with the affluent Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).
In their aristocratic world frivolous affairs are commonplace, but Anna and Vronsky’s consuming and very public passion makes them a target which leads to Anna’s isolation from society as she is married to head of state and saint of the people Alexei Karenin (Jude Law). The heartbreaking trajectory of their relationship and subsequent breakdown of Anna from isolation contrasts sharply with the colorful swirl of friends and family members who surround them, especially the newlyweds Kitty and Levin, who forge a touching bond as they struggle to make a life together.
This is the 13th film version of the famous Tolstoy novel; it is around 864 pages that has been turned into a two hour film. I believe that to be a feat in itself. The director Joe Wright has done an awesome job on this film visually, this is his third period film with Keira Knightley, the first two being Pride and Prejudice and, of course, Atonement.
It’s like watching theatre but in the fabulousness that is film; I did sit there wondering if certain scenes were just one long shot, as they all seem to roll into each other beautifully. Tom Stoppard (Brazil, Empire of the Sun, Shakespeare in Love, and many more) wrote the screenplay and you can see his signature all over this.
Keira Knightley is perfectly cast as the spoilt rich aristocratic Anna Karenina. She does whiny so well. That may be a harsh thing to say but this seems to be the type of role that really suits her. I know there are a lot of haters out there of the gorgeous Miss Knightley but I do think this is one of her better performances.
The costumes and sets are simply amazing- the colours, the fabrics and don’t get me started on the wardrobe. As a designer I was just entranced by sheer scale of what was achieved. The costumes are outstanding, Anna’s dresses are flawless, there is one outfit at the beginning of the film when she is on the train and has a stunning hat with veil, which looks magnificent on Knightley, she really was born to play these roles of yesteryear.
Jude Law gave quite the performance as Anna’s head of state husband Karenina. He is stoic and upright and appears to be balding, not one his usual roles that play upon his looks. It appears he is now going for the more dramatic transformational roles, in this film I believe he has done a great job.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is honestly a little bit wooden, understandably he is playing the young love interest but you fail to ever feel for him or be in his corner throughout the film. He is the man who breaks up the marriage, yet the love that you should feel between Anna and Vronsky just never seemed that passionate. I just never felt the chemistry between the two of them. In fact, it was once they got together that the film started to lose its way for me and the wonderment of the first half was gone. I do prefer him in grittier roles such as Kick Ass or Savages.
Definitely a film for those who love the period genre, especially ones set in Russia. Don’t go in with any expectations, you may be disappointed. Take my advice, go in with eyes wide open and be prepared to be completely transported away into something so beautifully made that the other flaws of the film are forgotten.
7 whiny voices out of 10. Anna Karenina commences this Thursday (Valentine’s Day) 14th February.