Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
FILE - This publicity film image released by Focus Features shows Keira Knightley in a scene from "Anna Karenina." (AP Photo/Focus Features, Laurie Sparham, File)
Movie review: Creative staging makes ‘Anna Karenina’ burn bright

Review » Knightley is captivating as Tolstoy’s doomed heroine.

By Sean P. Means

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Nov 29 2012 02:46 pm • Last Updated Mar 06 2013 11:34 pm

There’s something inherently theatrical in retelling a classic literary tale, so it’s fitting that director Joe Wright goes literally theatrical in "Anna Karenina," a fast-moving and eye-popping adaptation of the great Leo Tolstoy novel of love, adultery and societal pressures in Imperial Russia.

Wright places all the action of "Anna Karenina" in a massive and empty theater, with dizzying choreography and camera movements to take us from scene to scene. Every inch of the theater gets used, from grand balls in the audience space to gritty street life in the catwalks while the most intimate moments are played out on the stage for all of St. Petersburg to watch — and, of course, they all are watching intently.

At a glance

HHHhj

‘Anna Karenina’

Joe Wright’s lush, theatrical adaptation rekindles the fire of the classic Russian novel.

Where » Broadway Centre Cinemas.

When » Opens Friday, Nov. 30.

Rating » R for some sexuality and violence.

Running time » 130 minutes.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

What they are watching is Anna (played by Keira Knightley, Wright’s star in "Atonement"), the beautiful young wife of the morally upright government official Alexei Karenin (Jude Law), slowly being seduced by the handsome Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). At first, the flirtations are harmless enough, but soon Alexei issues a stern warning: "You may, by indiscretion, give the world occasion to talk about you." In Russian high society, that’s perhaps the most serious crime imaginable.

The society ladies have a different candidate for Vronsky’s affections: the innocent Kitty (Alicia Vikander). Kitty is smitten with Vronsky at first, which infuriates the man who truly loves her, Nikolai Levin (Domhnall Gleeson), who has rejected St. Petersburg society for honest living on a farm.

Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Oblonsky (Matthew Macfadyen, Knightley’s Mr. Darcy in Wright’s 2005 version of "Pride and Prejudice"), regularly cheats on his doting wife, Dolly (Kelly Macdonald). The gossips of St. Petersburg take this in stride, making the hypocrisy of their harsh judgments of Anna all the more biting.

Wright’s impressive staging creates a merry-go-round of color and sound, as Sarah Greenwood’s intricate set design and Jacqueline Durran’s luscious period costumes dance before cinematographer Seamus McGarvey’s cameras. Wright also benefits from screenwriter Tom Stoppard’s lucid condensation of Tolstoy’s massive work (963 pages in the paperback copy I recently received in the mail, compared with 199 pages in the bound edition of Stoppard’s screenplay).

Knightley, who at 27 has spent half her life in front of the camera, blossoms here into a true leading lady. Her fine-boned features suit the opulent settings, and her performance captures Anna’s fiery dismissal of societal rules and the pain she suffers for breaking them.

This "Anna Karenina" works because it doesn’t just try to illustrate a dusty tome. It breathes new life into Tolstoy’s characters and reignites the passion that generations of readers have felt for them.

movies@sltrib.com




Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.