Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Anna Karenina

Set in tsarist Russia, Tolstoy's tragic heroine's (Keira Knightley) love affair with a dashing count (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is seen as played out largely upon a stage, which is coupled with the seldom filmed courtship of her sister-in-law (Alicia Vikander) to a meager landowner (Domhnall Gleeson). Joe Wright's adaptation of the often filmed classic is somewhat of a disappointment, considering what he did with the literary treatments of "Pride and Prejudice" and "Atonement", both of which feature Knightley. Here, with famed screen and playwright Tom Stoppard, he makes the dastardly decision of treating the sprawling work as a stage play, and severely limits not only the story, but his own visual talents. That being said, there are many sumptuous passages and Knightley delivers a fine performance. However, you are never quite sure what draws her to the count, who is unremarkably played by Taylor-Johnson). Jude Law does a much better job of investing subtle traces of humanity in a mostly cold bureaucrat, allowing you to see what Anna must have when they first married. Also, the Gleeson storyline adds little but length to the film, and it becomes evident why it had been omitted in so many other adaptations.