Anna Karenina is a film based on the Leo Tolstoy book of the same name. Anna Karenina is directed by Joe Wright who is known for films such as Pride and Prejudice (2005) and Atonement (2007). The cast for the film consists of Keira Knightly as Anna Karenina, Jude Law as Karinin and Aaron Taylor Johnson as Count Vronsky.
The film has an interesting premise and style as presented in the trailers, but I think does not live up to or impress when viewed on screen. The plot of the movie is fairly easy to follow in that Anna Karenina (Keira Knightly) who is married to Karinin (Jude Law), finds herself bored of her marriage and seeks the affections of Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor Johnson). From this point on, things get difficult for Anna Karenina especially once Karinin finds out about the affair. The films plot and character focus around Anna Karenina is sort of depressing to watch though; as the character struggles to find her place and is continuously unsure about her decisions.
Character wise the movie is rich in deep emotional characters but most of this is lost due to the stylistic choices of the film. It was difficult to follow the emotional or dramatic scenes in this movie because of the director’s choice to include a theatre style choice for backdrops. There were dance scenes, or even the beginning opening scene where the viewer can see walls move out of place just like if we were watching a play. This style type is unique for a movie, but it take away from the entire viewing experience. For me, while the sets did look realistic and of high budget, once I saw the sets moving and wall placement it lost all effect for me. I wasn’t able to feel part of the scene as I knew as a viewer everything was just fake. It’s not just the sets to, it’s also characters that just look staged. There is a part of the film where everyone is frozen in place, then they all move at once. I have no idea what the director Joe Wright was going for, but for such an emotional story I felt it was completely lost when mixed with this films style.
It’s not only the style of the film that felt wrong, many other things too, did not go well to entertain. While I’m sure the book is very good (which I have not read), in this film I simply could not get attached to any character at all. For me everything felt fake and out of place. For one thing, Anna Karinina is Russian! Does Anna Karinina or any of the characters have a Russian accent? No way! They have an English one of course! So what am I watching? An English play? Or Anna Karenina’s life? The movie in my mind went completely downhill at about the 1-2 minute mark as soon as the first character spoke.
Due to the director’s choice in film style, mixed with the fake feeling English accents for Russian characters diminished what the actor’s were saying on screen completely. While Jude Law and Kiera Knightly did do somewhat a convincing performance it is neither of their best films. Olivia Williams who played countess Vronsky I thought managed her role well even though the scene where she rejects Count Vronsky’s proposal was so awkward in terms of the background character movements that it lost all effect. It made the Count Vronsky character look like a complete fool and I cannot believe why Anna Karinina (Keira Knightly) would have an affair with Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor Johnson) after this event, when she is married to Karinin (Jude Law).
The costume design for the film was interesting but like many parts of the movie it was not in the proper style of the time. While I do think the costumes are very well done for this period piece film and are well designed. It seems they took influence from both the 1950’s and the 1870’s for the costume design. While Anna Karenina is a countess she does not really dress like one and for the period looked fake, but likely not many would notice this as much. But as a style choice it’s not bad it just doesn’t really help.
The soundtrack for Anna Karenina is great in some parts and matches the tone of the movie quite well. I’m not sure if it’s something one would want to go out and buy though, as the soundtrack seems to be depressing to listen to as it was made to match Anna Karenina’s personal suffering as the movie went on. But as a movie soundtrack for this type of film tone it was one of the better parts of this movie.
Overall, Anna Karenina is not really a great film and one film I think that will leave the majority of casual movie viewers bored out their minds. It’s slow, unrealistic and visually unimpressive. Actor’s barely stand out and there isn’t any memorable scenes or moments while the characters seem hardly serious with their English accents in Russia.