By HANNAH KRIEGER
“Anna Karenina,” the latest from director Joe Wright, is an interpretive movie of Leo Tolstoy’s classic book. The movie tells the story of Anna (Keira Knightley) who is married to a man, Karenin (Jude Law), whom she no longer loves. Anna soon meets Count Vronsky (Aaron Johnson), who allows her to see just how passionate and thrilling love can be. Anna is soon faced with a difficult decision; she can either stay with her family and forget Vronsky, or she can ruin her reputation by officially becoming Vronsky’s mistress.
The movie itself was very artistically done. Instead of moving from location to location, the director decided they should just build one huge theater and change the scene every day. So, every time a scene would change in the movie, it would look like a set change in a theater. Then the movie would focus on the people rather than the location to make it seem more like a Hollywood film rather than a theater production. Overall, this was a very creative idea, but I found it distracting because every time I was entranced with a scene, the movie would pull me out by obviously switching sets. In the bonus section of the DVD, it was explained that the director wanted a theater because the characters are usually pretending to be something they weren’t. It was a clever idea, and after watching the movie a second time I was able to better appreciate this artistic vision.
Clearly, “Anna Karenina” is a fairly large novel. As such, one cannot expect the screenwriter to include everything. However, I felt that he did a great job including all the key points to the novel and even the most miniscule of details. However, this attention to detail did subtract from the story as a whole, making the relationships between characters seem underdeveloped.
That being said, the movie does possess a very charming quality. The sets were beautiful, the dresses were exquisite and the acting was magnificent. I thought the dance scenes were gorgeously choreographed and the overall story was portrayed rather well. This may also be Keira Knightley’s best role yet. It is very possible that the movie embodies an artistic vision that is ahead of its time; however, I’m not sure how the public is going to accept the movie. Personally, I appreciated the attempt that was made. I just wish they wouldn’t have made it so obvious that they were switching sets.
Overall, if you’re a Keira Knightly fan or loved the book, you will definitely enjoy renting or even buying the movie. The bonus features helped me understand the vision the director was aiming for and that gave me a new perspective on the accomplishment of the film. I would recommend watching the movie once to get accustomed to the unique way it was made, then check out the bonus features (so they don’t spoil any plot points), as they will change your perspective on the movie.
Then watch the film a second time to really enjoy it.