Sunday, December 16, 2012
Anna Karenina 2012
I saw Anna Karenina this week with a group of girlfriends. Not having the time to go out afterward for our usual "gab about the film over coffee", I have been mulling it over alone for a few days now. What did I think of the film? Hmmmm. I find it difficult to answer.
First of all, if you enjoy period drama you should definitely see this film. I can even say that I will purchase this on DVD to have in my collection. But I have to say that I want to see it again more for the spectacle and the costumes and the ingenious set design than for the story.
I will qualify this by saying that I have not read the book Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, touted as one of the best novels of all time. I do however, really want to read the novel now. And I want to see the film again after I have read the book and see if I feel differently about it. That is a recommendation for the film right there isn't it?
The acting is superb. Keira Knightley does an amazing job as Anna Karenina. She is luminous onscreen and her descent into inevitable madness is riveting. Matthew McFadyen is wonderful as Anna's brother. Very odd to see he and Keira Knightley dancing together as brother and sister, having the image of Lizzy and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice 2005 stuck firmly in my head, but he is wonderful as the philandering brother. Jude Law is appropriately cold and detached as Anna's husband Karenin. But I don't think you will be emotionally attached to these characters because there isn't time for character development, even though it clocks in at just over 2 hours long.
But I really did like it. The music was lovely, the costumes were to die for. Oh, the hats and the veils alone are worth the price of admission. And I think that Joe Wright can now be viewed as a singularly talented director. This was a real risk and he pulled it off admirably.
I think my only quibble is the same one I would level at Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice. These books are just too long to be squeezed into 2 hours. If he could have been given the length of a miniseries to do this, it might have involved me more in the story, as one who knew little of the plot ahead of time. But in the time allotted, this is a truly wonderful film. And if it gets a lot of us to read the book, what more can we ask?
P.S. Try not to be too distracted by the familiar actors from other beloved films. Points to anyone who can spot William the ill fated footman from Downton Abbey in this. Much easier to spot Lady Mary (and Moaning Myrtle and Jane Eyre and Mary Maceachran and Elsie the housemaid and Jane Fairfax and...)