Anna Karenina


Joe Wright's Anna Karenina is a feast of cinematic elegance and motion. With a screenplay by Tom Stoppard (who won an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love) this classic story of a virtuous Russian noblewoman (Keira Knightley) who abandons the love of her kind and patient husband (Jude Law) to answer the persistent entreaties of a dashing young count (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and eventually descends into fatal madness has been structured like a stage play that often bursts out from the proscenium onto snowscapes and verdant meadows. It's an intriguing concept; one I don't believe I've ever seen done quite like this. Stoppard's Shakespeare in Love (1998) blended action on the boards and in the streets, but not like this film. This is ingenious.  By showing the audience the machinery behind the action, Wright and Stoppard appear to be saying quite literally that Tolstoy's tragic tale of facades is melodramatic by design. And what marvelous machinery. A long scene of a seasonal ball at which Anna and her illicit suitor Vronksy meet early in the film is a swirling human carousel of twisting arms and hands. It's brilliantly elegant and erotic, like foreplay in jodhpurs and bustles. Wright -- who is best known for his 2007 film Atonement which also starred Knightley -- has delivered a film that is resplendent and romantic and highly recommended.

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