Anna Karenina

It's time to revisit Leo Tolstoy's classic tragedy once more. We are in the late nineteenth century Russian high society, but this time Tom Stoppard ("Shakespeare in Love") did the script and his theatrical roots are evident from the first moment, as we watch a curtain rise to reveal a stage. From then on, we move from theater to house to theater to street, etc., etc... It is a bit disorienting at the beginning, but once we adjust our expectations, it works very, very well. The actors' movements are sometimes balletic, sometimes comedic and sometimes simply theatrical, but director Joe Wright ("Atonement") never loses control.

We see:
  • Keira Knightley ("Pride and Prejudice" 2005) is Princess Anna, sweet and unspoiled...but untested. She loves her son and never questions her wealth or doubts her position in society.
  • Jude Law ("Sherlock Holmes") is Prince Karenin, Anna's husband, a cool and distant man who has absolute trust in his wife.
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson ("Nowhere Boy") is Count Vronsky, the pretty nobleman who spots Anna and is determined to win her.
  • Kelly Macdonald ("Gosford Park") is Dolly, Anna's sister-in-law. She is such an open, loving woman, our hearts go out to her whenever she is on screen.
  • Matthew Macfadyen ("Death at a Funeral" 2007) is Oblonsky, Anna's brother. He provides the comic relief. It's a marvelous trick the way his minions change his jackets; we see it a number of times and it never fails to amuse.
  • Alicia Vikander ("A Royal Affair") is Kitty, the darling young woman who first falls for Count Vronsky.
  • David Wilmot ("The Guard") is Nikolai, Oblonsky's love-struck brother who adores Kitty from afar. Tolstoy uses this farmer to examine the pre-Bolshevek Revolutionary relationship between the peasants and the nobles.
This is a lush production with gorgeous costumes, amazing hair styles and a peek at the privileges enjoyed by the aristocracy. The Russians emulated the French, so the children were taught French, while the clothing and furniture echoed those of Paris.

This R-rated film runs over two hours and is filled with endless close-ups that examine Knightley's face, hands, hair, eyes, lips, etc. I saw more than I needed during the love scenes: I still think some things are best left to our imagination (saliva anyone?).
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Here is a link to a preview:
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