A bold reimagining of a Russian classic.
, 19 Sep 2012
It started with Pride And Prejudice, carried on with Atonement and, once again, Joe Wright has Keira Knightley acting in one of his films. Hes moved away from the streets of old-time London though; instead, hes taken her to old-time Russia, and into one of the greatest novels all of time. This time, shes Anna Karenina. In, well, Anna Karenina!
For people like me who havent read the book, heres a quick little summary. Anna Karenina is one of many Russian socialites of the 19th century, flitting along in high society. Shes married to Alexei Karenin (Jude Law), and has a son. But her life changes drastically when she starts an affair with the young but affluent Count Vronsky (Aaron Johnson).
Its a straightforward enough story, nothing overly confusing. There are some other, slightly related, stories too, which bring forth the acting chops of people like Kevin Kline, Olivia Williams, Matthew Macfadyen and Emily Watson. To name a few. And heres the good news: theyre all pretty good in it. Of the lot, Id say Macfadyen as Oblonsky is the standout, but every actor pulls their weight for the good of the film. They all do well enough to keep the movie entertaining, without really setting the world alight. Its solid acting.
I do have a gripe with that Keira Knightley woman though. Unlike popular opinion, I think shes a good actress. But she doesnt do herself any favours by playing that same stereotypical character shes played in so many of her other movies. The high-class well-to-do character with the perfect accent and conflicted feelings. Nobody makes conflicted look sexy the way she does, but its been done by her so many times. Its a bit frustrating. Jude Law, on the other hand, gives such an un-Jude Law performance. I was very impressed.
But I dont want to talk about the performances, because theyre nowhere the best thing about this film. The best thing about it is the cinematography. Visually, the film is absolutely stunning. Im gonna try and explain this in the best possible way: it is as though you are watching a stage play. Everything is deliberately theatrical, with scene and costume changes. We see curtains rising and characters exiting through trap doors and up staircases. Its a very bold idea, and one Wright pulls off successfully.
The real question for me is whether the movies cinematography is enough of a reason to go see it. The performances are good, but not incredible. The story and script are good but, again, nothing spectacular. Its all solid enough, but its the style of the movie that enhances it. In this case, Id say you should go and see it. You wont be disappointed by the acting or the script, and you should hopefully be wowed by the direction. Kudos to Joe Wright for attempting something like this.
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