Anna Karenina (2012)

September 4th, 2012
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director Joe Wright    Screenwriter: Tom Stoppard

Starring: Jude Law, Keira Knightley, Matthew MacFadyen, Aaron Johnson

Atonement director Joe Wright has placed the writing credits of this take on Tolstoy’s timeless masterpiece in the safe hands of Tom Stoppard as Keira Knightley takes the stage, quite literally, in the leading role. Focusing on the eternal love triangle and the choice that every woman has to make between romantic love and the security of marriage and social position, this version takes place within the confines of a theatre in a railway station, an ice rink and other snowy locations.  Of the standouts, Jude Law gives a sleek and buttoned-up performance as Karenin and Matthew MacFadyen’s cheeky turn as Anna’s brother is fresh and dynamic. Be-decked with fur and diamonds and breathtakingly spectacular, the ambitious setting seems to draw the attention away from the heart of the drama which is the scandalous love story that develops between Keira Knightley’s Anna and Aaron Johnson’s dashing cavalry officer, Count Vronsky.  With echoes of her tearfully poignant performance in Duchess without the visceral punch, the film immediately becomes less emotionally engaging and more of a theatrical romp with pseudo rumpy-pumpy and Strictly Ballroom thrown in.  But as a piece of filmmaking it’s an intoxicating and innovative statement from a director very much at top of his game.

Meredith Taylor ©

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