Thursday, December 20, 2012

Movie Review: Anna Karenina

Literally, all the world's a stage in the new remake of Anna Karenina. I loved everything about this movie. With one exception. The whole movie is set on a theater stage which could have been highly confusing if I hadn't first visited the film's website and read that it was done in this way. I even heard the husband part of a husband and wife that sat behind me remark that he thought that the first part was a play that the characters were watching and then fifteen minutes in realized that Oh! THIS is the movie! Several of the sets were just unquestionably painted backgrounds which gave the movie a campy and silly feel and made it very difficult for me to take it seriously. One scene in particular was supposed to be quite emotional, but I ended up chuckling at the absurdity of the background. It's when Alexy Alexondrovitch gets the letter from Anna and tears it up and throws it into the air. The background is a wood painting of Moscow and it looks as if it were done by a first year art student. The set was not only distracting in terms of an off-putting appearance but also because characters constantly walked off stage and straight into another scene. For example, a character who is in a Moscow ballroom exits stage left and ends up in a countryside staring at miles of snow. Despite the movie-set-on-a-stage-but-not-just-a-filmed-version-of-a-live-performance way it was filmed not working for me, I do have to admit that I was pretty dazzled by the horse race scene. They filmed a horse race on an opera house stage! Seeing that alone was worth the price of admission! (Well, that, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, but more on that later).
Ok, I can't delay, on to Aaron Taylor-Johnson. The only person that I knew that was in this film was Keira Knightly. Now normally, I do not care for Ms. Knightly, but I positively wanted to see  this movie so I was going to have to suck it up and get past it and I am so glad that I did. Knightly's performance was uh-may-zing! She brought Anna to life. It was like she was channeling the fictional train-smashed dead woman from nineteenth century Russia! For as much as I used to dislike Knightly, I equally love Aaron Taylor-Johnson (he plays Vronsky). I didn't actually know this, I just knew that the guy in the trailers for that movie Savages that came out a while back was h-o-t, hot! As I watched this movie I noticed that Count Vronsky was h-o-t, hot. So, I whipped out my smart phone and lo and behold they were the same person. I did not picture Vronsky as being blonde as I was first reading the book (I'm about 300 pages in) but it worked in the film! I pictured Vronsky as being a little more burly and domineering, but Taylor-Johnson pulled it off perfectly and I without a doubt believed him as Vronsky. I couldn't believe the normally h-o-t, hot Jude Law was so pug-fugly in this movie, but he, too, pulled off the character of Alexy Alexandrovitch (Anna's stuffy husband).
So, in the end, for the most part I was pleasantly surprised by this film. I would have preferred to see a true, plain retelling of the novel instead of a film that was attempting to be cutting edge and arty by employing the set-on-a-stage motif that was used. I loved the actors, I was surprised at how much I loved Knightly and I am now excited to watch her remake of Pride and Prejudice which I've always avoided because I don't like her (and that movie is directed by the same director as Anna K.!). I did love the movie though, the visuals were spectacular (when they weren't just painted pictures in a background) and made me want to visit Russia. The costumes were even more amazing. Every single thing that Anna wore was gorge and I loved that she wore feathers in her hair! Feathers! In. Her. Hair! Can we bring this back into fashion, please?! I feel like this might be a look for me. The attire was classy and elegant pieces of art. The score was beautifully done and had a very Russian feel to it. I'm not normally one for classical music, but I have listened to the free samples on ITunes many a times over the past few days and will most likely end up purchasing the whole album soon. And the dance scenes- wowie wow wow!
That first time that Anna and Vronsky dance is like watching moving art. I could have watched 2.5 hours of nothing but the dancing on screen and been happy and given the movie two thumbs up! Though the movie didn't follow the book perfectly, it did come pretty damn close to doing so. Feasibly  it couldn't follow the entire thing as the book is GINORMOUS and the movie was already pretty long. The book is so ginormous that I don't know if I would have read it without this movie coming out to prompt me to do so. Hopefully with Christmas break coming up I will have ample time to finish it! Check back soon for a book review...

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