Today I present for your consideration Anna Karenina (2012, Rated R, available on DVD).
I am not a fan of the Russian writers, but for some reason, I'm fond of poor, foolish infatuated Anna Karenina; so I felt eager to see this movie. Furthermore, it was directed by Tom Stoppard, who directed The King's Speech, a movie I loved and thought very well made. Alert: I'm in error here. Tom Hooper directed The King's Speech. Tom Stoppard is one of the writers for Anna Karenina; it was directed by Joe Wright. Changes everything, doesn't it?
Anna (Keira Knightley) is married to the rather cold and pompous Count Alexei Karenin (Jude Law). The marriage doesn't seem very interesting or exciting, but Anna loves their son. Then Anna meets the dashing young Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Soon everyone is gossiping about their affair, and when Anna leaves Karenin for Vronsky, she loses her son and finds she is cast out by society.
I like this movie, and I don't.
The costumes are lavish and beautiful. The entire movie is stylishly choreographed. When Anna and Vronsky dance together for the first time at a ball, the other characters stop moving as we see the whirlwind romance beginning. As Anna and Vronsky dance past the other characters, the still dancers suddenly make a single movement in unison, indicating that, yes, they are there, but they are of little importance compared to the two people who are falling in love.
The sets are interesting, too. A horse race is acted out on stage, rather than on a track or in a field. The actors make visible movements from one set to another, but the viewer does not see the accoutrements of film making. Rather, the transfers have a flair and originality.
The overarching component of the film, however, is its rhythm. Office workers stamp papers loudly in unison and make the same movements, suggesting the dullness and repetition of the work. More important, though, is the rhythm of the train we see and hear in the most important scenes of the movie – when Anna first meets Vronsky at a train station and a man is killed by the train, and then again, when the train moves relentlessly as Anna meets her fate.
It's the acting in Anna Karenina that disappoints me. Jude Law is probably the best of the bunch. Keira Knightley is beautiful, but she's not Anna. I think it's that she doesn't have an aura of tragedy about her, and perhaps her acting skills simply weren't up to the part. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is simply awful as Vronsky. We have no reason to think that Anna would give up her son and the rest of her life for Vronsky, who looks kind of half-witted and has the most ridiculous dyed blonde curls on top of his dark hair.
This movie is definitely not for children. It would bore them. They'd whine, When will this be over? and you wouldn't be able to watch. Because I'm unhappy with the acting, but I like the style of the movie, I give Anna Karenina The Janie Junebug Kinda Sorta Seal of Approval.
I think someone out there will like it.
Infinities of love,