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154 of 189 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sumptuous Feast for the Eye and Ear and Mind - BRILLIANT!
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...
Published 24 months ago by Grady Harp

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197 of 235 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Anna Karenina transformed?
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...
Published 21 months ago by Viewer


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197 of 235 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Anna Karenina transformed?, February 19, 2013
This review is from: Anna Karenina (DVD)
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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154 of 189 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sumptuous Feast for the Eye and Ear and Mind - BRILLIANT!, December 5, 2012
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This review is from: Anna Karenina (DVD)
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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70 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars... visual eye-candy lacks emotional pull, December 9, 2012
This review is from: Anna Karenina (DVD)
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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A confusing, shallow metaphor, March 29, 2013
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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
1.0 out of 5 stars One melodramatic subplot changes the message of Tolstoy's literary masterpiece, February 18, 2013
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This review is from: Anna Karenina (DVD)
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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What a monumental disappointment!, February 21, 2013
This review is from: Anna Karenina (DVD)
Now, I do have to admit that I absolutely adore the novel. I have read it dozens of times, all the way through.

Also, spoiler alert!

When I saw the commercial for this, I was extremely excited. I went in knowing that there is no way to put EVERYTHING from the novel into the movie, unless they want to make a 15 hour long deal. However, I am very disappointed by the casting, and by what the writers / directors decided to leave out.

Why on earth did they cast what looks like a child as Count Vronsky? Was this an attempt to draw in teenage girls who think Justin Beiber is a sex god? At no time does the actor look like the kind of dashing, heroic, manly person that Anna falls in love with. Keira Knightly was a disappointment as well, simply because she never captures the mystique that attracted people to Anna in the story; Anna's eyes are mentioned throughout the story for being so expressive, but it just doesn't come through in the movie very well.

I could not believe that they had Anna ice skating, but did not show Levin skating, when he is trying to get up the nerve to propose to Kitty. They didn't show Vronsky shooting himself. They didn't show Kitty's trip to the spa or her humiliation after Vronsky runs off with Anna. That was a huge plot point in the novel, and it was completely left out. They just show Kitty cleaning up Levin's brother, without any context as to why this high-society princess is perfectly comfortable giving a sponge bath to a sick man, while his prostitute lover caresses him.

I agree with another poster, who said that the novel is as much about Levin as it is about Anna. Anna and her lover are only a piece of the puzzle; in my mind, it takes a back seat to the beauty of Levin's quest for understanding. Leaving out the wedding, the birth, Levin's inner conflict about becoming a mother, and changing the proposal to blocks instead of chalk, is just sad. Next time, can we get a movie that focuses on their relationship?

We didn't need the highly stylized sex scenes. That time could have gone to much more important pieces of the plot. We didn't need those moments with the workers in Oblonsky's office stamping papers.

All of that said, I did appreciate the moving sets. However, in the beginning, the pace feels kind of manic for no reason whatsoever. Also, the build-up to Anna's suicide just isn't very convincing. I know there were time constraints involved in this, but it doesn't show her slowly building into a panic attack, that leads to her suicide. Not showing the repercussions of her suicide on Vronsky also glosses over the emotional turmoil that is key to the story.

Jude Law may have been the only one who actually read the book before filming. He is the reason why this gets two stars, rather than one.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I really tried to like this movie..., February 21, 2013
I have read the novel twice and it is one of the best period pieces written. That said, you will like the older versions of Anna Karenina better with Greta Garbo and Vivian Leigh (this is the best performance from a movie standpoint), than what was put on screen. And the reasons I give these two movies made in the 30s and 40s is because the actresses captured Anna Karenina which was the major problem with this movie.

I think Keira Knightly was too young for this role, Jude Law looked the role of her husband, but Keira was all over the place in this performance. And I agree with many of the casting of Vronsky, the actor was out of his realm.

I give it two stars for the lushness of the production sets and costume, that is about it.

I have sat down 3 times to try to watch this movie and never finished it. It was majorly miscast and the performances are bland, at best. It could have been so much more, but if I can not even finish this movie (and I finished watching the 2012 bad performances of Red Dawn) then it speaks volumes of the disconnect and flow of this movie.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very weird movie, April 27, 2013
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Damon Ransom (Janesville, WI) - See all my reviews
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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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars horrible film. hollywood destroyed this story, April 19, 2013
This review is from: Anna Karenina (DVD)
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Gimmicky, bad, March 5, 2013
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J. E. Lock (Nissequogue, NY) - See all my reviews
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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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Anna Karenina
Anna Karenina by Joe Wright
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