Movie Review: Anna Karenina

“Anna Karenina,” based off Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel, has now been put in the hands of director Joe Wright, who has been known for his period piece hits over the years like “Atonement” and “Pride and Prejudice.” Oscar buzz has already been surrounding this fresh take on the legendary book — and rightly so, as “Anna Karenina” is an artistic spectacle that should be seen by all.

“Anna Karenina” is a fictional tale centered around Russian aristocracy in the late 19th century. The movie follows Anna (Keira Knightley), a princess who seems to be in a passionless yet faithful marriage with Karenin (Jude Law).

On a visit to her brother, Oblonsky (Matthew Macfadyen), Anna is exposed to other aristocrats for the first time and finds herself being admired by the young and rather persistent Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).

Caught up in her newfound desire, Anna loses touch with what was important in her old life, such as her husband and son and dives into a world of secrets and rumors that eventually drives her mad.

Spinning off of Anna’s own story, “Anna Karenina” reveals a second plot, one that focuses more on Oblonsky, whose family struggles with his unrestrained infidelity, as he attempts to guide young Konstantin Levin (Domhnall Gleeson). Levin plays the hopeless romantic in love with Kitty (Alicia Vikander), a young woman who, meanwhile, has herself become completely infatuated with Anna’s now secret lover, Count Vronsky.

Wright attempts an edgier take on the tragic romance by starting the film out as if it were a play and continuing this technique throughout, mismatching sets and outfit changes as the film goes on.

While contributing to the confusion of who is who in the initial scenes, Wright’s theatrical approach soon weaves smoothly in and out of the plot.

While the story might be hard to follow at first by someone who is not familiar with the novel, the actors carry on brilliantly with what little dialogue the rich and aesthetically pleasing scenes allow for.

One complaint might be that Taylor-Johnson’s portrayal of the Count was not virile enough to seem believable, but Knightley and Law make up for this misstep with their dynamic roles.

Tolstoy’s book is credited by some as the best novel ever written, and Wright’s film adaptation, while exploring a more avant-garde side of film, doesn’t disappoint.

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