Anna Karenina

User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 123 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 66 out of 123
  2. Negative: 16 out of 123
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  1. Dec 2, 2012
    5
    Tolstoy must be "turning over in his grave" if he saw what has been done to his book. The acting is ok although Jude Law really did a fine job, but Knightly has really overplayed her role to the point of laughter at her emoting. But mostly Stoppard has turned a fine literary work into something laughable. The costuming is lovely, and the choreography is much overdone-it looks foppish.Tolstoy must be "turning over in his grave" if he saw what has been done to his book. The acting is ok although Jude Law really did a fine job, but Knightly has really overplayed her role to the point of laughter at her emoting. But mostly Stoppard has turned a fine literary work into something laughable. The costuming is lovely, and the choreography is much overdone-it looks foppish. Vrovsky is portrayed often as a gay blade. If there is one film to be missed this season, this is it. Expand
  2. Nov 18, 2012
    6
    Joe Wright is a master of puzzle-like construction and supplies an excellently balanced script. This movie may have a chance of winning a oscar for Best Actress, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography.
  3. Dec 9, 2012
    6
    If you want Tolstoy as arty fiction first and tragedy a distant second then you might like this. If you want a story told straight you won't. By focusing on staging the story as a play inside a play, rather than telling the tale as a novel the result was to pull me away from all the characters. I even yearned for Anna to go to the station much more quickly than she did. The choice forIf you want Tolstoy as arty fiction first and tragedy a distant second then you might like this. If you want a story told straight you won't. By focusing on staging the story as a play inside a play, rather than telling the tale as a novel the result was to pull me away from all the characters. I even yearned for Anna to go to the station much more quickly than she did. The choice for Vronsky was a poor one, all blond mustache and little macho, and Knightley's straying upper lip always distracts me. If I'd wanted to see the bloody thing on stage I'd have gone to a theatre, not a cinema. Expand
  4. Dec 3, 2012
    4
    The costumes by Jacqueline Durran are sumptuous , the production design by Sarah Greenwood head spinning and the original music by Dario Marianelli is at times as frantic as the editing is and at other times very operatic. The camera loves Keira Knightley, as Anna Karenina, just as much as Keira Knightley loves the camera. Jude Law, as her cuckolded husband, gives the best performance inThe costumes by Jacqueline Durran are sumptuous , the production design by Sarah Greenwood head spinning and the original music by Dario Marianelli is at times as frantic as the editing is and at other times very operatic. The camera loves Keira Knightley, as Anna Karenina, just as much as Keira Knightley loves the camera. Jude Law, as her cuckolded husband, gives the best performance in the film and 20 years ago would have played her lover, Vronsky, bringing more fire, looks and chemistry to the role than does Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

    Whether it is the concept of the screenplay by the world famous playwright Tom Stoppard and/or the director Joe Wright, based on the even more famous novel by Leo Tolstoy, the novelty of staging it as a play, using every nook and cranny of a theatre, very quickly falls flat and takes you out of the story just as Wright goes outside the theatre too many times. At times it seems like an opera, operetta or musical theatre without songs being sung. At times you find yourself counting the costume changes by Anna and Vronsky trying to see who accomplishes the most and there are a lot. In some scenes costume changes are stylistic which is intriguing at first but then, sadly, like the movie, becomes boring.

    There are many roles in the film but the more prominent are Matthew Macfadyen as Anna
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  5. Dec 3, 2012
    5
    Joe Wright, director of this version of the Tolstoy classic, has chosen to emphasize the theatrical nature of the period by setting most of the locations in a theatre: on stage, backstage and in the house. This sometimes creates a flowing, dancelike style that harkens to Luhrmann and Fellini. It also gets in the way of creating a cohesive and moving experience. Some of the scenery and allJoe Wright, director of this version of the Tolstoy classic, has chosen to emphasize the theatrical nature of the period by setting most of the locations in a theatre: on stage, backstage and in the house. This sometimes creates a flowing, dancelike style that harkens to Luhrmann and Fellini. It also gets in the way of creating a cohesive and moving experience. Some of the scenery and all of the costumes are stunning. The performers do nicely, but the fervor that should drive the drama is uneven. Collapse
  6. Feb 17, 2013
    4
    At the opening, I was thrilled with the visual complexity of the stage play conceit, but all that could not lift the tedium. Why were all the actors spouting their lines in a bizarrely rushed and completely passionless manner? Barely a sense of humanity in there, and no one to like. Just some overly self-conscious, blatantly modern styling without a grip of the material.
  7. Mar 17, 2013
    5
    Anna Karenina is a powerful story of marital duty and obligation versus lustful passion and the pursuit of personal, if not egomaniacal, happiness. It is a popular theme. Every time I went to the video store to rent it, every single copy was out, even though the allotted shelf space was that which is usually reserved for blockbusters. When I finally procured a copy that had just beenAnna Karenina is a powerful story of marital duty and obligation versus lustful passion and the pursuit of personal, if not egomaniacal, happiness. It is a popular theme. Every time I went to the video store to rent it, every single copy was out, even though the allotted shelf space was that which is usually reserved for blockbusters. When I finally procured a copy that had just been returned one minute earlier, I told the clerk that I heard the film was produced as though it was a stage play. He replied, “Yes, but it has more energy than that, although it's a little loosey-goosey.” I didn't have time to ask him what “loosey-goosey” meant, but I later looked it up and it means “relaxed, not tense.” I'm not sure that term is applicable. The stagey pretensions seem to actually make this version of Tolstoy's story stiffer and more formal rather than relaxed, especially in scenes where actors are frozen in place or where actors walk to the edge of the stage to hit their mark. I think maybe the clerk thought that loosey-goosey meant something more like looney-gooney or daffy-waffy, because this Anna Karenina is a little crazy. Tolstoy's Anna Karenina was a serious, mature, and intelligent woman, who may have been emotionally distraught about her situation, but she wasn't crazy even though she did commit suicide, but that was a surprise ending. The theater stage backdrop is done par excellence but it is often distracting, and the film works better in the scenes where the theater backdrop is not visible. Just when you think the director dropped the ruse, the footlights, rafters, ladders, ropes and pulleys are back. The actors are almost perfect--Keira Knightley is an exquisite Anna Karenina; Jude Law is a stern and forbidding Karenin; Alicia Vikander is an angelic Kitty; Domhnall Gleeson is a suffering, brooding, and faithful Levin; and Matthew Macfadyen is a hard-working and perfectly bourgeois aristocrat, civil servant, and family man. And then we have Count Vronsky, whose seductive powers are the pivot upon which this story has to rotate, but unfortunately, the director took some liberties that are a little shocking. When the producers of the Bond franchise decided to bet on a blonde Bond, they won. But a blonde Vronsky? Tolstoy's Vronsky had dark hair--he was handsome, elegant, perhaps angry, pondering, and tormented. If he was a bon vivant, it was not that evident. His fickleness and his vices were not an obvious aspect of his demeanor. You had to get to know him to find out that he was an untrustworthy cad, a scoundrel, a louse, and a worm. On the surface, he was a gentleman. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is a good actor who played John Lennon a while back, but his rendering of Vronsky is a boyish, fun-loving rake, perhaps even a mama's boy, whose carefree attitude causes damage of which he is blissfully unaware. This Vronsky should not have turned the head of the virtuous, lofty, and married Anna Karenina. Also, the movie fails to portray the depth of the grief and despair that Vronsky caused Kitty when he visibly lost interest in her after one dance with Anna Karenina, nor does it do justice to Levin's inner torment when Kitty rejects him because she believes that Vronsky is about to propose to her. On the other hand, the portrayal of Anna's neurotic behavior may go a little too far in making her out to be mentally ill. I don't think Anna's behavior was meant to portray mental illness as much as it was meant to portray the consequences of Vronsky's amoral behavior (symbolized by him riding his beloved horse too hard and then having to shoot it), the inevitable outcome of an affair based mostly on physical attraction, and the destructive power of social ostracization. The stage-set theatricality is artistically pleasing, but it burdens the film, causing it to be drawn out in slow motion, making for a long and tedious decline of this noble and tragic literary heroine. Expand
  8. Feb 15, 2014
    6
    It’s the third time for Jon Wright to tender Keira Knightley a leading role in a period drama, the first two (PRIDE & PREJUDICE 2005, 8/10; ATONEMENT 2007, 9/10) have raked in handsome rewards, but woefully the third time is not a charm, a plain and simple reason is that Knightley’s screen reputation is a far cry from Anna Karenina, Tolstoy’s prime epitome of a Russian belle, a marriedIt’s the third time for Jon Wright to tender Keira Knightley a leading role in a period drama, the first two (PRIDE & PREJUDICE 2005, 8/10; ATONEMENT 2007, 9/10) have raked in handsome rewards, but woefully the third time is not a charm, a plain and simple reason is that Knightley’s screen reputation is a far cry from Anna Karenina, Tolstoy’s prime epitome of a Russian belle, a married woman with a modernism perspective, who is enchanted by her dauntless quest of passion and dare to break out of the shackles of a dead-water marriage, yet consequentially, entrapped by her capricious psyche and finally corroded by the society’s scorn and her overestimated perseverance of standing her ground.

    However, the film is a high-caliber colossus of mise en scène, deluxe costumes and outstanding art direction, particularly during the first act, its tableaux-on-stage suppleness can effortlessly dazzle the audience and preserve a spellbinding momentum while multifarious characters emerge and disappear, honing up to the climax, the resplendent ballroom sequences, introducing the lust-exuding pas de deux between Anna and Vronsky (Taylor-Johnson), concurrently, the subplot of Kitty (Vikander) and Levin (Gleeson) has been practically rolled out as well.

    Next, here comes the predestined adultery, which is fueled by the laborious emphasis on the enticement of the (not so inadvertent) eye contact, soon appears to be an over-contrived obligation to fornication other than following what your heart wants and the chemistry is purely physical, Anna and Vronsky should be soul-mate right? But here in this film, it is a Hollywood aggrandizement of a skinny beauty shagging a hot youngster who beams with pretended profundity (Taylor-Johnson was only 21, and not masculine enough to take on the role). So the magical momentum slumps, fortunately a little compensation is availed by Jude Law, whose version of Karenin is redolent of compassionate forbearance, elicits a free pardon to dissolve any blame generates from his side, occupies the moral higher ground, which skews our emotional pendulum and undermines Anna’s character-building as an anachronistic woman who tragedy is mostly accredit to the time she is in instead of her own defect in making poor decisions.

    An involuntarily pouting Keira Knightley, treads the same water in THE DUCHESS (2008, 7/10), no wonder the aesthetic fatigue surges, so she can nail Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet, but not Anna Karenina, she is not that versatile as an actress. With Anna hogging the spotlight, the rest of the cast seldom has any chance to enrich their roles, Macfadyen (Knightley’s Mr. Darcy in PRIDE & PREJUDICE) plays her luscious brother Oblonsky, adequately amps up some farcical digressions; as a mirrored romance between the rejected and the neglected (contrasts Anna and Vronsky’s passion play), Gleeson and Vikander imbue the film with a modicum of subtlety but the wayward editing fail to make their story more engaging.

    So this adaption is a musically lyric venture for Joe Wright fans, it has its marked imperfections (thanks a lot, English is not my native tongue, otherwise I would find it is hard to take a Russian literature with mixed accents seriously), but the redundancy of his grandiose aesthetics, suggests Wright is a man knows what is his strongest suit, I can envisage him a successful comeback if only he can acquire some apposite fodder to prepare, maybe it will be his next project PAN, the origin story of Peter Pan, a wonderland backstory may fall right into his froufrou niche, meanwhile hire a new casting director is more contingent now.
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  9. Jan 19, 2013
    5
    Anna Karenina is one of the most famous tales of infidelity, but too bad the film couldn't illicit the passion our heroine, Anna, and her lover supposedly felt. Most of the performances were as icy as the environs of Russia. Keira Knightly and cast (Jude Law being the only exception) stifled what could have been an emotionally rich and outlandish film, and Joe Wright
  10. Jan 23, 2013
    4
    Walking out of this film, I wrote a single line at the end of my notes for my review:
  11. Mar 12, 2013
    4
    It doesn't have the same feel as many of the other Joe Wright films, which is really disappointing. It follows the messy path of an imperfect adaptation focusing more on visuals than a smooth moving plot. Compared to must or all of Wright's films, Anna Karenina is a mess.
Metascore
63

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 41
  2. Negative: 1 out of 41
  1. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Nov 30, 2012
    60
    That storytelling, however, is uneven, ranging from something approaching tedium to moments that are downright wonderful (such as the sweetest of scenes, involving two young lovers -- played by and Alicia Vikander and Domhnall Gleeson -- and a stack of children's blocks).
  2. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Nov 29, 2012
    50
    The arc of the 800-page novel, crammed into 130 minutes, becomes a line as flat as the heart monitor of a dead patient. A story that ought to possess the mad grandeur of an opera acquires the tedious regularity of soap opera.
  3. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Nov 29, 2012
    75
    Wright's film is visually stimulating to be sure, but he never loses sight of the raw human emotions that make Anna Karenina a classic.