Anna Karenina is a film by Joe Wright released in 2012, and it was nominated for four Oscars and it won one for Best Costume Design. The film is based of the Leo Tolstoy book of the same name, and from what I hear they cut a lot of the book out, but in this movie’s case that may have been for the best.
The movie starts with the titular Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) traveling to Moscow to try and get her brother’s wife (Kelly Macdonald) to forgive him (Matthew Macfadyen) for his unfaithfulness. Her unaffectionate husband (Jude Law) warns her against it because people were meant pay for their sins. She is successful but her brother doesn’t change his ways. While in Moscow she meets Count Alexei Vronsky (Aaron Johnson) who becomes infatuated with her. He chases her and after awhile is successful and they have an affair. Victorian era drama ensues.
This film gorgeous to look at. It is filmed as if the whole thing is a large stage play, and the actors move around the stage as if it is a city with the upper gangways taking the place of city streets. It is fantastic, you keep waiting for them to break in to song. Sadly they never do. The actors are wonderful and Keira Knightley has once again proven why she is the go to lead for Victorian costume drama’s, but whoever wrote the script forgot to make it engaging.
It is like taking a long walk with beautiful people in a beautiful place, but they keep droning on and on about something horrifyingly boring like the tax code or something. It feels like it is at least an hour longer than its two hour and ten minute run time. I am not sure Tolstoy would have been happy with the way it was adapted. The film still had some interesting things to say about gender inequality, but it said it over and over, and Anna really did choose her own horrible fate.
I wanted to like this film since it was so darn nice to look at, but it dragged on and on. I, believe it or not, am usually a fan of this genre because of all the witty banter, and the social engineering the characters do, but in this case they took all that out and you are left with a long hard slog of a film.