Anna Karenina--Directed by Joe Wright/Starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law/screenplay by Tom Stoppard from a novel by Leo Tolstoy/rated R/ 130 mins
(B) I love classic stories like Anna Karenina, but I was so distracted by the sets in this version that I could not enjoy the romantic story that I came to see. I think the director wanted it to seem like “ life’s a stage and we are all merely players,” to quote Shakespeare. There were scenes that started with a bed on a stage and ended in fields of grass that were inside a home. Another scene was in a grand ballroom with strange kinds of backstage equipment. This did not work for me. Keira was very good, as she is in all these familiar aristocratic roles she plays. I was impressed with Jude Law’s performance also, as the cuckold husband, but I think the role of Anna’s lover was miscast. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, as count Vronsky was too pretty. Anna’s lover should not be prettier than the title character. Taylor-Johnson also lacked that it factor for me. A less pretty and more charismatic male would have worked better. The costumes and sets were absolutely outstanding, particularly the scenes where everything was in white. There was a very lilting score in this movie that I am hoping will be recognized. I give this film three binoculars, mostly for music and costumes.
(OG) What is it with the British accents in every movie that takes place in a foreign location? We’re not on the Globe Theater stage for goodness sake. It’s O.K. for actors to try and ACT, isn’t it? The only actor who attempted to sound Russian was a waiter in a restaurant scene. As a lone voice it was too obvious! Aside from that I did not think that the artsy-swartsy direction added anything to Tolstoy’s sweeping passion play about love, rules and honor in an already conflicted world. I am also never much of a fan for the upstairs downstairs scenario, no matter which floor we are concentrating on. However, I was so engrossed in some of the scenes, as the spinning camera and uninterrupted shooting dissolved from crazy set to crazy set, that it didn’t matter too much that the grandeur of the human story was being completely overshadowed. It seemed like the actors and the director may have been working from two dissimilar scripts at cross purposes. All-in-all, after days of deliberation, this was a bit of a disappointment for me. I’ll go barely two binoculars and that is mostly for the interesting, albeit unnecessary camera work.