Directed by: Joe Wright
Written by: Tom Stoppard (Screenplay) Leo Tolstoy (Novel)
Starring: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, and Aaron Taylor Johnson
This is yet another film I sat down with my wife to watch, her being a fan of period pieces I decided to give it a try, knowing full well that I may regret it. There is only so much love and accents I can take but being the loving husband that I am and the fact that I can do a write-up on it, I was motivated to see it.
Based on a highly regarded Leo Tolstoy novel of the same name this book and film have been getting some mentions from the people I see on a daily basis, co-workers, family and friends. Many stated that they could not get through the book due to the Russian names and the confusion it seemed to cause them or they said it was just plain boring. My wife, who will read anything attempted to read Anna Karenina recently but had the same complaint as others, “those Russian names.” Anna Karenina has been made as a movie 6 times and done on TV 4 times, in mini-series format, I have seen no other versions nor have I heard of them. What is it about period pieces that people feel the need to keep remaking them?
For those of you who have not seen any of the 10 other versions or read the book, Anna Karenina follows socialite Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) feeding her desires away from her husband (Jude Law) and falling for another man by the name of Vronsky (Aaron Taylor). This affair puts her marriage and social status at risk but her desire is far too much for her to pass up. If she follows her heart she will lose everything including her comfortable life in the aristocratic society she resides.
Due to a lack of funding director Joe Wright (Atonement) took a somewhat untraditional approach to this oft done novel by shooting most of the film on stage, like you were watching a movie of a live theatrical performance. Although this may have saved a few bucks it became a distracting facet of the production, making the movie seem less than smooth and at times laughable. The moment you think that the film might be getting interesting this hokey theatrical approach slaps you in the face and you realize you are watching something you do not want to.
I was completely bored throughout the whole film, I did not care about the main characters at all and found one of the subplots to be far more interesting and entertaining than the main course. On a positive note the costumes were great and some of the sets were well done. Another positive is that the actors and actresses held their own considering they had very little to work with. This film lacked a good script, lacked direction and I suffered through to almost the very end when my wife had to shake me to wake me up. She then filled me in on what I had missed and I see no need to rent it to see how this train wreck ended. I give Anna Karenina 1 guy sleeping.