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Film Review: "Anna Karenina"

by Photo of Pamela Zambrano

Third time is a charm for Director Joe Wright and Keira Knightley.

Film Review:

Director Joe Wright and Keira Knightley have teamed up again to create another adaptation of a classic novel. Anna Karenina is a story about love but is also definitely not a fairy tale romance. As Knightley herself has pointed out in interviews, her character is as much an anti-hero as she is a heroine. She has a lot of likeable qualities, but she also does things that one would not approve of or easily overlook. At the beginning of the story she starts out as a proper 19th century woman. She is a poised, glamorous person who knows how to use her words as cleverly as a Victorian writer. She is the Belle of St. Petersburg’s society. Although her marriage lacks heat, she considers her husband Karenin (played by Jude Law) to be a saint. She has the kind of picturesque life that a lot of women of her time would strive for, so of course eventually she does things that defy convention. Her catalyst occurs when she meets the handsome Count Vronsky (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson). He was courting another woman but quickly moved on to Karenina when he laid eyes on her. At first she tries to act like nothing has changed, but pretty soon her feelings of attraction towards Vronsky become too intense for her to ignore.

Wright and Knightley really do have a special sort of relationship. They can bring out the best in each other’s work. Because of their team work you know how Anna is feeling without anyone onscreen having to tell you. Every time Vronsky walks into the room you see the effect that he has on Anna. It was the sort of uncontrollable attraction where the person you like makes your heart race, knees weaken, and breath harder. Whether you agree with her actions or not, you don’t hate her for being tempted. Vronsky is impulsive, passionate, and unpredictable. He knows how to bring a lot of excitement and fun into his relationships. Anna’s husband on the other hand is very smart but emotionally reserved. He keeps his feelings so well controlled it is almost as if he thinks it’s not polite to display them. He can come across as one of those hopelessly faultless people who can be annoying at times because they never do anything wrong.  He was that way, until people starting noticing that there was something brewing between Anna and Vronsky.

The subject of adultery in the film isn’t just gray. Wright and Keira bring with them an entire rainbow of colors and emotions into the whole picture. Wright truly was brilliant as a director. He painted a world that has beauty and love but at the same time also contains cold rejections and betrayal. This is one of those stories that shows love in ways that it could actually happen and not just in the way people wish it could happen. All the characters eventually had to face the consequences of their choices.

The film has a lot of original thinking and breaks a lot of rules. It is likely to get a couple of award nominations.  It will definitely give you a lot to talk about afterwards with your friends. The movie reminds you that film is an art form. This train ride’s final stop is not the happily ever after fairy land, but the views along the way are dazzling. 

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