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28 of 32 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 22 months ago by Antenna

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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Watchable
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...
Published 21 months ago by Cynic


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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Watchable, 20 Sep 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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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Filmic Marmite, 12 Sep 2012
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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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Why did I buy it???, 29 July 2013
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This review is from: Anna Karenina [DVD] (DVD)
I found it boring and extremely wierd as it seemed to be set amongst a stage set most of the time and I had no sympathy for the leading lady at all very disappointing
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood at its worst, 29 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Anna Karenina [DVD] (DVD)
Unfortunately, the movie concept and direction are far fetched, superficial and confusing.
Except for Jude Law, the performance of the principal actors is simply pityful and it is quite obvious that they haven't understood anything much about the context and spirit of the story.
Sadly, the whole production is an insult to Leo Tolstoy's wonderful novel.
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2 of 2 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 the help of 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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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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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, but I'll still buy it., 31 Oct 2012
This review is from: Anna Karenina [DVD] (DVD)
Anna Karenina (DVD + Digital Copy + UV Copy)I used to think that you could say what you like about director Joe Wright, but he never let his artistry get in the way of telling the story. My opinion, after watching this, is: you can say what you like about Joe Wright.
As a young man, I read this classic story of a high-class, 19th-century, Russian woman who dumps her husband, a highly respected public official, for a young military officer. I was probably too inexperienced in life to fully appreciate it at the time, so I was looking forward to seeing Wright's masterly handling of it. I knew that his was an unusual take on it, with most of the action taking place in a run-down theatre, but I trusted him not to metaphorically dance in front of the camera shouting, "Hey, look, everybody, at what a fantastic director I am!" I was wrong.
Though lavish and demonstrating Wright's appreciation for good music, it was so stagey that at times I thought I was watching a ballet. He re-uses some ideas from his earlier films; we get a scene with Anna and Vronsky dancing together as if they are alone in the room, which is a rehash of a scene between Elizabeth and Darcy in Pride and Prejudice but without the brilliance with which that scene was handled. I didn't get any handle on who Anna was, or why she would fall for someone who still seemed wet behind the ears. At her best, Keira Knightley can act, but this isn't her best. You'd think Aaron Taylor-Johnson could look the part of a dark, handsome fellow for whom Anna might fall (although sounding it is another matter), so why he plays Vronsky as practically a blond is beyond me. Despite supposedly being a cold fish, Jude Law cut a more sympathetic figure as her husband.
The other love story, between the idealistic Levin and the inexperienced Kitty, is well done. A landowner who wants to put the world to rights with schemes to improve the peasants' lot, he has somewhat rigid ideas about an ideal of womanhood which are shattered by Kitty's interest in Vronsky. I was touched by the way she had to explain to him that as a young girl, she could hardly be expected to be sure of who she was and what she wanted. However, this secondary storyline didn't compensate for the failure of the main plot.
It's never bothered me in the past that Wright is regarded as arty. Atonement is my all-time favourite movie and not only did I love Hanna, but so did my 13-year-old grandson and 70-year-old sister, neither of whom go in for arty stuff. This time, however, he hasn't got his priorities right. I'll buy this dvd because it's a movie that's sumptuous to look at and I want to see if I've missed anything - I'm getting a bit deaf in my old age, and whoever's in charge of the sound system at the local cinema doesn't know the difference between volume and clarity - but I'm not sure I'd recommend it to anyone else.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A spectacular adaptation., 12 Jan 2013
This review is from: Anna Karenina [DVD] (DVD)
I have a soft spot for Keira Knightley, she is a guilty pleasure, but this film is truly her finest roll. Stoppard takes a difficult and lengthy novel and turns it into something relevant and modern. I came out of the cinema feeling an inexpressible grief and void that I had only experienced when finishing a good book. I cannot recommend this film enough.
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14 of 17 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So weird, 3 April 2014
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This review is from: Anna Karenina [DVD] (DVD)
I looked forward to watching this, what a disappointment. It had cheap settings and scenery and such a weird film. Worst adaption I've seen. I should have been paid to watch it. Don't waste your money.
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Anna Karenina (Blu-ray + Digital Copy + UV Copy) [2012] [Region Free]
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