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226 of 270 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2013
I was so eager to get this movie that I ordered it before viewing it. Luckily I was able to stop the order after seeing it On Demand. What a horrific representation of Tolstoy's masterpiece. Be ready for a bizarre ride. Not only does the director try far too hard to approach it in a unique and original fashion (stages, sets, slow or frozen actors, behind the stage scenes, etc.) they completely destroy the story. Anyone going into this without having read the book will have no idea what is going on and instead of feeling compassion for Anna one only feels contempt and very little sorrow in her last act, as she is more like Madame Bovary than Tolstoy's tragic heroine.

Important things missing...here are just a few!
Anna being married to someone far older than her. An arranged marriage, not a love one.
Anna trying desperately NOT to get involved or compromise herself, hence the heroine. Kiera Knightley's version makes her very little less than a common prostitute rather than fateful star-crossed lovers.
Kitty being ill, kitty being heartbroken, Kitty rising above her station, lowering herself because of love and compassion.
Levin trying to figure out the meaning of life. Levin's brother being washed not because he was sick, but because he was dying and his body was being prepared before the priest came to give last rites.
Sad abandonment of any "Beautiful Corners" where Icons are placed for prayers in each household.
No scenes of marriages in the Orthodox Church and who will raise their candle the highest.
No explanation of why Anna is taking morphine and why it gets out of hand. Not enough of her unbearable grief being parted from her son. BTW...does she even care about her daughter??
The worker who sees Anna kill herself and the candle that goes out.

The list goes on. Glad we only paid a few dollars to view this for the next 2 days. Gorgeous costumes and lushness, but no story to back it up. Get the version with Sophie Marceau or the PBS one if you want to see the heartbreaking story Tolstoy meant to portray.
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158 of 194 people found the following review helpful
There have been many cinematic versions of Leo Tolstoy's epic novel ANNA KARENINA but for this viewer none matches the creative excellence and power of this very different version. Tom Stoppard wrote the screenplay for this adaptation and the work was directed with eye toward timeless artistry by Joe Wright. There will be some detractors who feel that cinema is cinema and stage plays are stage plays, but Wright's decision to combine the two works extraordinarily well. The flavor of Tolstoy's story and mood are maintained and yet made somehow more vital by Wright's electing to place this story as though it were happening on a theater stage (including catwalks, backstage, audience and theater boxes etc.) The story is theatrical and Wright embellishes the last of the Czarist days with great aplomb.

The story needs no summary: Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley more beautiful to behold and brilliant in acting than ever) is married to Alexei Karenin (Jude Law in a tour de force acting role) and is happy in her station with her slightly cool husband but very warm young son. Then quite unexpectedly her eyes meet those of the wealthy Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson in a career making turn) and their love is immediate. The flirtation is enhanced by some of the most beautiful waltzing choreography on film. We are in St. Petersburg, Russia and divorce is something only a man /husband can initiate so as the love affair reaches a point of no return Anna must decide whether to bear the shame of a divorced woman or just be the mistress of the incredibly handsome Count and remain married. In contrast to the Anna/Vronsky duet is the passion of the country lad Levin (Domhnall Gleeson) for the aristocratic Kitty (Alicia Vikander) and throughout the story the two forms of love are paralleled. Anna becomes pregnant with Vronsky's child, an act that quietly infuriates Karenin as it makes Anna's affair public - a condition no one can tolerate in that society - and subsequently results in Anna's leaving her beloved son after she gives birth to the daughter belonging to Vronsky: Karenin will care for the child. The climax comes with Anna's infamous suicide and the story ends with all loose ends tied.

The exceptionally strong supporting cast includes such fine actors as Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Olivia Williams, Ruth Wilson, Emily Watson, Michelle Dockery, and Shirley Henderson. The luxuriant costumes are by Jacqueline Durran, the cinematography is by Seamus McGarvey, and the glorious musical score is by Dario Marianelli. A Stunning Film. Grady Harp, December 12
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71 of 86 people found the following review helpful
This is the fourth time that Leo Tolstoy's 1877 book Anna Karenina gets the big-screen treatment, this time from director Joe Wright, who has impeccable credentials doing historical literary treatments (his earlier movies include the excellent 2005 Pride and Prejudice and 2007 Atonement films).

"Anna Karenina" (2012 release; 130 min.) brings the story of Anna Karenina (played by Keira Knightley), who is married to Russian 'saint' Alexei Karenin (played by Jude Law), in upper class 19th century Russia. Yet Anna is bored out of her mind, and she catched the fancy of Count Vronsky (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and soon they embark on an ill-fated affair.

Several comments: the movie is eye-candy from start to finish. For reasons not clear, the movie cuts back and forth between real-life scenes and a theatre, where some of the scenes are played out. While it allows for some nice and clever shots, it is never made clear why this is happening this way, other than I suppose for production value. The acting performances are great throughout, none more so that Knightley who carries the movie on her shoulders as much as she can. Alicia Vikander as Kitty also was noteworthy (I also saw her in another historical drama, Denmark's excellent "A Royal Affair", earlier this year--that movie is now playing in selected screens in the US). Yet despite all that, as I was watching this, I never fully connected emotionally and I never got pulled in, a big flaw in any movie I watch. I want to root for a character, or against one, or at least care emotionally. It didn't happen for me in this movie. Last but not least, the art-house theatre I saw this movie in this past weekend here in Cincinnati, was absolutely packed, I mean completely sold out. So there is definitely a strong interest in this movie. Whether it will be a break-out hit will depend on word of mouth. Bottom line, this is certainly not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination, but for me it was not as good as it could've been.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2013
Blah...not worth your time. You won't believe how unattractive Jude Law is in this film. This film is very obsessed with creating a metaphor about theatre/life being a stage. The metaphor overwhelms the entire film and distracts from its emotional heart.
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66 of 82 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2013
It is very unfortunate that the key takeaway for every screenplay of Anna Karenina is this subplot of Anna's suicide. If you haven't read the book, please understand the irony: one of the main reasons Anna Karenina (the book) is so treasured is because of Levin, not just Anna. Levin is Tolstoy's autobiographical attempt to express his own views and find his place and purpose in life. Time magazine, William Faulkner and many others declared Anna Karenina the "greatest novel ever written" partly because it is so fascinating to read through Tolstoy's inner battle. He works to reconcile his atheism with his religious background, his political and philosophical beliefs with his newly found roles of being a husband and a father. The book is Tolstoy's journey to find one's inner balance. It is as much about self acceptance as it is about those who failed to find piece.

I keep rereading Anna Karenina mainly because the overwhelming sense of fulfillment at the end is so addictive. I never thought to consider this plot a tragedy until watching it on screen. Don't fall into the melodramatic trap of the onscreen soap opera. Pick up the book and enjoy an incredible study of human happiness.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2013
Full of wonderful actors over trying to rise above theatrical crap background. Who would think this story was so boring it needed a filler, rather overwhelming, hyper stage junk. The hubris, druggy world took over. Horrible
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2013
I viewed about 20 minutes of this travesty and then not only stopped watching, but destroyed the dvd. My expectations for a credible dramatization of one of the greatest masterpieces of fiction were admittedly high, but this artsy, silly caricature was so deficient in overall approach and attitude that I was sickened. I wasted money on the dvd, but absolutely refused to waste further time.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2013
WIERD A** FILM. Why is everything filmed on a stage? Why are they deconstructing the story? Why not just show it? Very disappointed. The best Ana Karenina film was in the 90's with Sophie Marceau and Sean Bean. Now that's a movie.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2013
When I read the novel, I took my time...devouring it one bite at a time, chewing slowly to savor it. This terrible movie is like taking the finest cut of beef....and grinding it into two all beef patties. It's impossible to care about the characters, the pace is frenetic and more time is spent on the oh so artistic (note heavy sarcasm) shift of scenes and the high school English level of symbolism that it destroys what should be an emotionally satisfying story. It's almost as if the screenplay was written using Cliff notes and turned into a parody of what it should be. Shame...I had been so looking forward to a sumptuous banquet given the talent involved in this movie.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2013
I normally love period dramas featuring Keira Knightley, but not this one. It's kind of a mixture between a musical & a movie, and the story flips back & forth in time without any warning. Very hard to follow, and we quit watching about halfway through.
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