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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Filmic Marmite
Since it is impossible to do justice in a two hour film to such a celebrated classic, with its focus on inner thoughts, it is probably a good decision to try a different take, in this case the ploy of setting most of the scenes in a theatre, not just on the stage but in the wings, the walk-ways above the podium, the stalls and so on.

So, the audience is...
Published on 12 Sept. 2012 by Antenna

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Strictly Bolshoi
The spectre of Mr Luhrmann is present in every scene of this stylised melodrama. Mrs Karenin's shocking intrigue with an army officer is played out in the `theatre' of the fashionable world - so the director starts the action in an actual little tacky theatre, cardboard scenery and all. As the story unfolds we keep drifting into `real world' for a while, then we are back...
Published 24 months ago by Merget


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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Filmic Marmite, 12 Sept. 2012
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Anna Karenina [DVD] (DVD)
Since it is impossible to do justice in a two hour film to such a celebrated classic, with its focus on inner thoughts, it is probably a good decision to try a different take, in this case the ploy of setting most of the scenes in a theatre, not just on the stage but in the wings, the walk-ways above the podium, the stalls and so on.

So, the audience is watching a film of a play of a book. This has the benefit of conveying a sense of the restrictions and conventions which may have driven Anna to "break out" and give expression to her love for Vronsky, but which also made it impossible for her to be accepted by society afterwards. On the other hand, the theatrical confines may make some scenes seem too stylised, artificial and therefore less moving e.g. the whispered gossip and disapproval of Anna's affair. I was also often unconvinced by the frequent technique of freezing minor characters into the pose of statues, to highlight say, the image of Anna and Vronsky falling in love as they dance together in a world of their own.

I was glad not to need subtitles, since many scenes are quite visually complex, requiring close attention to pick up all the fleeting impressions used to convey a good deal. Tom Stoppard's script is very effective, clear and unpretentious. I could hear every word, which is often not the case. There are some striking scenes such as a horse race in the theatre in which an audience becomes a crowd of real people, only to be replaced by characters painted on a stage backdrop.

All the actors perform well. Jude Law is at last acting the wronged husband rather than the lover, and paints a sympathetic portrait of the industrious, upright bureaucrat, who tries to suppress his emotions and follow the rules, gives way to understandable hatred and vengeance, but who shows a good deal of decency and compassion in the end.

I have heard some criticism of the casting of Vronsky, but was surprised to find that it worked with Aaron Taylor-Johnson convincing as a striking young man with whom Anna might become infatuated physically.

Anna's predicament did not move me as it should have done, apart from her grief over being separated from her son. It must be a weakness in the film that I ended up feeling more sympathetic towards Karenin and even Vronsky than I did for Anna who often seems spoilt, capricious and ultimately deranged. I agree that a sense of injustice over the harsher treatment meted out to her as a "fallen woman" is enough to drive anyone off the rails. Beautifully dressed to the bitter end, she contrasts with the youthful Kitty, who settles for a life of rural bliss with Levin, the aristocratic landowner who chooses to work alongside the freed serfs and shelter his sick revolutionary brother - i.e. lead a practical life with some real worth.

Although I sympathise with those who may find the director Joe Wright's approach too contrived, this film held my interest, and gives scope for a good deal of discussion.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Strictly Bolshoi, 30 May 2013
This review is from: Anna Karenina [DVD] (DVD)
The spectre of Mr Luhrmann is present in every scene of this stylised melodrama. Mrs Karenin's shocking intrigue with an army officer is played out in the `theatre' of the fashionable world - so the director starts the action in an actual little tacky theatre, cardboard scenery and all. As the story unfolds we keep drifting into `real world' for a while, then we are back in the theatre again. Eventually Anna will be rejected by Society when she makes an ill-advised appearance at the opera - at a theatre within a theatre within a cinema. It's a metaphor that certainly knows how to outstay its welcome.

And it's not even always well done. In a ballroom scene dancers freeze in attitudes, like a corps du ballet, while Anna and Vronsky make an impassioned exhibition of themselves around the floor. Ginger and Fred could have carried it off with feeling and grace but all the device does here is bring it forcibly to our attention that Keira Knightly & Aaron Taylor-Johnson are both, as we Lancastrians say, about as lish as a stone trough.

There's not much passion in the acting either. Knightly is the arty director's favourite dolly: put her in a hat and let her gaze at the lens through a black lace veil and, with suitable music, the audience will helpfully project appropriate emotions onto that porcelain face. But beyond her own three or four stock expressions she has no reserves to surprise us - and tragedy does need an actress who can tear herself and her audience to pieces.

Vronsky is certainly handsome. With his floppy curls (I'm not sure about those strange blond highlights, though) he has a look of the young David Hemmings. `Cor! Llanfairpyllgwingeth ...er...gogogoch!' I thought to myself when he first appeared, but he turns out to be not as much fun as the eyeliner and cute little tash would lead you to expect. Yes, he might turn your head for a fortnight, but fling yourself under a steam engine, no.

The surprise of the film is Jude Law's Karenin, a quiet but eventually moving performance. The secondary love-story, of Levin and Kitty, is touching too. The frocks are very nice. But minor felicities are not enough to save a long tricksy film with a great big void at its heart.
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53 of 60 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Watchable, 20 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Anna Karenina [DVD] (DVD)
I had already seen the reviews of this film so was prepared for the somewhat odd theatrical take on it. Having read the book many many years ago I went with an open mind, but to be honest I found the overall effect to be strange and somewhat disengaging. There was undoubted spectacle about it, and from a visual perspective some scenes were stunning, but at the end of the day I found the film disjointed and difficult to follow as it seemed to jump between the conventional and the surreal.

Keira Knightley looking predictably stunning in some wonderful costumes, is sadly not a convincing character actress as I find I can never forget I am watching Keira rather become immersed in the character she is portraying(very much the same about her role as Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice)

I was unprepared for Jude Laws knock out performance as the tormented Karenin. I have never been a great fan of this actor, but I honestly believe his performance is award worthy. Unlike Keira Knightleys 'Anna', Jude Law became the personification of his character, and the film was worth watching for his performance alone. Matthew McFaddyn was also a delight to watch as Annas errant brother

Sadly, I left the cinema feeling oddly unmoved, and feeling that the movie could have given audiences much more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tolstoy must be shaking his head, 10 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Anna Karenina [DVD] (DVD)
There are several problems with this production, but the two major drawbacks are the structure of the movie and the leading actress. The writer is the eminently ingenious Tom Stoppard, but this time he oversteps the mark by introducing a theatrical event as the conveyance for his material. While the contrivance is an interesting one, it fails by accentuating the melodramatic and loses that important sense of reality so necessary to make good drama work. Anna needs an actress capable of drawing out the simmering passion in her soul, but poor Keira never reaches anything like that level, contenting herself with looks and stock facial expressions as well as delivering her dialogue as if she were still in Love Actually. Vronski is well played but over-the-top camp, while the actor who surely saves the day is Law, who puts in a performance I never believed he was capable of. The gut-wrenching tragedy of the story is lost because we fail to feel Anna's pain or sympathise with her tortured soul. The ghost of Tolstoy must be shaking his head ruefully.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Vronsky portrayal out there!, 5 Mar. 2015
This has to be by far one of the best romance films I have ever had the pleasure of watching, I came across it on my Amazon instant video, the chemistry between Knightley & Taylor-Johnson as Anna & Vronsky is reason enough to rate this 5 stars, I felt they were destined to play these roles and completely fell in love with their portrayal, not to mention the costumes and look of the film were beautiful, as it is only 2 hours long naturally they haven't been able to fit in every detail of Tolstoy's masterpiece, but for me they fitted in enough to make this film truly brilliant, the ONLY criticism I have to mention is the ending! It is rushed and we don't see any character reaction, but apart from that, if you love a tragic love story with an overload of passion then this is a must see, and better yet PURCHASE THE NOVEL, if you are an avid reader and haven't touched a single Tolstoy work then you need to start with Anna Karenina!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bold, odd, not always successful, but worth seeing, 15 Sept. 2014
By 
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
A brave experiment that doesn’t always work, but succeeds in letting us see Tolstoy’s great, oft filmed novel in a new light.

Setting much of the film in an aging theater, director Joe Wright and screen writer Tom Stoppard accomplish two things. They make literal the reality that in the 19th century upper class life was a play, and your survival depended on playing your role just right. It sounds heavy handed, and at times it feels it, but it brought out a humor and a pathos for all involved that I found fresh and rewarding.

In the same vein, the film isn’t afraid to make Anna look self involved, and actually makes Jude Law, doing some of his best work as Anna’s boring, uptight and pious husband, arguably the most sympathetic character, The film refuses to give Anna and her lover a ‘get out of jail emotionally free’ card. Yes, we want them to be together, we see their passion, but we also see the real-world consequences of their obsessive love.

Contrasted with that is Levin, an idealist landowner who loves in a quieter, but also more honest and sustainable way than Anna's passion -- and we are left feeling confused about just what is right and wrong when dealing with love and society.

The film looks amazing. Wright uses his theatrical conceit beautifully, then breaks it at just the right time to make the point that not everyone, especially the proto-Marxist Levin are about living on that stage, but try to experience real life.

The results may be at odd with some of Tolstoy’s ideas, and certainly are different than we’ve seen before, but what’s an classic, done many times, for except to reexamine. At times the theatrical effects can be distracting, and the approach causes a certain emotional distance. Sometimes this feels more like the social satire of Chekhov, than the deeply felt prose of Tolstoy, and it can get slow and repetitive in spots. But most of the time I was grateful to be surprised at seeing the story in a new way.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and just plain weird, 17 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Anna Karenina [DVD] (DVD)
I was so looking forward to this product arriving and saved it for a special occasion to watch. What a disappointment. Both my husband and I hated it and we found it difficult to watch to the end. It was hard to associate this travesty with the classic novel by Leo Tolstoy. The theatre theme was just plain weird, and instead of passion and tragedy it was more like a comedy. Absolutely awful and a waste of money.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful !, 19 Aug. 2013
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This was so bad that I could not watch it thru to the end. I have now donated it to the local charity shop. It was lollipop version of history - all froth, bubble and corn. I am a fan of history and of Russia in particular and found this to be the most superficial Hollywood versions of a historical drama that I have ever seen. The costumes and scenery may be good BUT the storyline, acting and authenticity were abysmal
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55 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great film, shame about the heroine., 6 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Anna Karenina [DVD] (DVD)
I find Keira Knightly cold. She was just right in Atonement playing a cold and beautiful young woman, and possible in Pirates of the Carribean where she played a cold and beautiful and screechy young woman. It may have something to do with her voice which seems to have no low notes and always a breathy Essex is it? accent. Wicked snow queen would be perfect for her.

Why then has she been chosen to play Elizabeth Bennet whose warmth and humour unfroze Mr.Darcy and the embodiment of passion, Anna Karenina?

Both these great novels don't make sense unless the heroine is a woman, not a girly, with a strong and complex character. Otherwise the strong and passionate men who love them would not be interested. Even Vronsky, the least cerebral of the three men tells Anna that he was put off at first thinking that she was 'just a frou frou'.
Beauty was not enough for them. They were searching for warmth. That's why all we imperfect women dream of being their object of desire; because these men look for something more.

I think she was merely smart in Pride and Prejudice and nearly the same here, a Barbie doll who only becomes convincing when she is being really nasty. Anna is a married woman, a mother, a loving sister. She has developed emotions and a passionate nature. At the end she is not simply bonkers but unable to put the passion back in the box; a real woman torn in many directions with too many conflicting loyalties. We see nothing of that in this adaptation and without that it is simply a film 'based on' Tolstoy's novel.

The acid test is that in both films we end up really sorry for the men involved that they have wasted their profound love, thrown aside what has always been important to them to end up with this pert child.

A beautiful film, brilliantly acted by all the men.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ravishing To The Eye, 22 Sept. 2013
By 
Charles Vasey (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Anna Karenina [DVD] (DVD)
Joe Wright's film looks wonderful: full of colour and using the theatre as a backdrop to the life of the Russian aristos. Its look is phenomenal with moments of Gustav Klimt and others of John Singer Sargent.

It has some wonderful acting: Oblonsky and Karenin (Macfadyen and Law) cover both extremes of the Russian character and Aaron Taylor-Johnson is exactly as one would imagine a young Guards officer, but at its heart I did not find Keira Knightley entirely convincing. In part that is because we all have our views as to the heroine's problem. Keira's style neatly dealt with the unstable narcissist version, but perhaps not with enough depth. I always viewed Anna as a Russian Madame Bovary, though Karenin is more of a character than Dr Bovary, and that may have skewed my view. The difficulty as ever with such novels is a tendency to punish the characters for being richer than us; their problems seem infinitely survivable to the toads beneath the harrow.
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Anna Karenina [DVD]
Anna Karenina [DVD] by Joe Wright (DVD - 2013)
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