Anna Karenina Movie Review

Tolstoy's iconic novel may have been filmed several times, but you've never seen a version like this. Clever writer Tom Stoppard and visually whizzy director Joe Wright combine talents with this ambitious film, which sets all of the action in a theatre that expands and shifts into a variety of settings.

Yes, it's rather strange, but it's also drop-dead gorgeous.

Knightley reteams with Pride & Prejudice and Atonement director Wright to deliver another solid performance as Anna, an aristocrat in 1870s St Petersburg who is married to the achingly nice establishment gent Alexei (Law) but falls under the spell of the bland but sexy young heartbreaker Vronsky (Taylor-Johnson). And when she gets pregnant, she has to make a very difficult decision. The central theme is that these people are characters in a play dictated to them by their restrictive Russian society, so they have little choice but head toward tragedy.

Fortunately, there's a parallel plot about a wealthy farmer (Gleeson) who rejects so-called civilised society to stay in touch with the earth. He pursues the smart, young Kitty (Vikander), also entranced with Vronsky but beginning to become disgusted with so-called civilised culture. The film includes a rather huge number of characters, including Anna's womanising brother (Macfadyen) and his longsuffering wife (a particularly excellent Macdonald). And Wright and Stoppard effortlessly let everyone swirl around each other in a huge pool of emotion.

Although this pool often feels frozen over, as the feelings are pretty icy. So it's good to have open-hearted performances by Macdonald and Gleeson to hold our interest. Knightley is excellent, although we never understand why Anna does anything she does (which is the whole point). But perhaps the most impressive thing about this film is its astoundingly beautiful design: the sets, costumes, photography and music are sumptuous and lush, never fussy but always adding to the intensity of each scene. Look for it to deservedly hoover up Oscar nominations across the board.

Rich Cline

Comments

Anna Karenina Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: 12, 2012

Advertisement

More Keira Knightley

A Week In Movies: Stars Turn Out In For The London Film Festival, As Films Premiere In London And New York, Wahlberg Shoots Ted 2 And Trailers Bow For American Sniper And Ouija

The London Film Festival kicked off this week with the UK premiere of The Imitation Game, attended by stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Mark Strong,...

Benedict Cumberbatch Appears On Red Carpet In London Ahead Of 'The Imitation Game'

The London Film Festival kicked off on Wednesday evening with Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley gracing the red carpet in Leicester Square. The pair were...

A Week In Movies: Guardians Holds Two Premieres, Plus First Glimpses Of Fifty Shades, The Imitation Game And Mad Max: Fury Road

In the wake of especially strong buzz from critics who have seen the film, the cast of assembled for their world premiere in Los...

Andrew Hodges "Alarmed by The Inaccuracies" In 'The Imitation Game'

‘The Imitation Game’ tells the story of Alan Turing - a vital asset for the allied forces during the Second World War in cracking the...

Advertisement

Benedict Cumberbatch Stuns as Alan Turing in 'The Imitation Game' Trailer

It appears Benedict Cumberbatch has thrown his hat in the ring for next year's Oscars, playing Alan Turing in the forthcoming drama The Imitation Game....

The Imitation Game Trailer

Alan Turing is a mathematician whose genius leads him to be enlisted in a major code-breaking scheme during World War II, where he is set...

Apes, Transformers and Dragons: But Where Are The Women in the Summer Blockbusters 2014?

Summer has arrived (if you ignore the weekend rain) and so have some fantastic cinematic blockbusters.There’s exciting viewing for everyone: out-and-out action, talking apes on...

A Week In Movies: Hudson Wows New York, Planes And Pudsey Premiere, Plus New Trailers For Cave, Knightley And Witherspoon

A sleek and sexy Kate Hudson wowed the red carpet at the New York premiere of her new film Wish I Was Here. She was...

Advertisement