Director: Joe Wright
Writers: Leo Tolstoy (Novel), Tom Stoppard (Screenplay)
Stars: Keira Knightley, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Jude Law, Matthew Macfadyen, Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander
Joe Wright has taken many classic novels and put them to film, such as Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. He goes one step further in Anna Karenina. He has made a daring choice to tell the story as if it were being enacted by players on a stage. It was a bold and brilliant move for Tolstoy's novel has been told many times over, but never in a fashion such as this. Although the emotions were there, the story itself was overshadowed by the sheer perfection that was the costume, music and cinematography.
Set in late-19th-century Russia high-society, we follow the story of beautiful aristocrat Anna Karenina (Knightley). She enters into an affair with Count Vronsky (Taylor-Johnson), a man notorious for his charms with women. We see how the affair changes her life and indeed herself. This movie is pitched as a 'whirlwind romance,' yet it never quite sweeps you off your feet.
The performances were brilliant across the board. Knightley really shined towards the end of the film, proving that she can do serious emotional roles. However, there isn't enough focus on their characters. Wright sweeps through each scene in a smooth and quick fashion, never letting us dwell on what has transpired. Although I liked the fashion in which the scenes changed, it would have been better if they slowed down a little and let the characters personalities shine through.
With that being said, I enjoyed this film immensely. I was unsure at first about Wright's direction of the film. In the end, it won me over. The story was still good, regardless of the things that were omitted from the screenplay. Every character was played marvelously, particularly Knightley as Karenina. The greatest aspect of the film was by far the sheer beauty of the surroundings, even though it shouldn't have been. I understand why not everyone would like this adaptation. It was daring, and I think it paid off.