Movie Review: Anna Karenina (2012)

Last night I finally got my hands on the new Anna Karenina movie by director Joe Wright, who is famous for his former works such as Pride and Prejudice (2005) or Atonement (2007), both movies with Kyra Knightley as leading actress.
And so it was this time.
Knightley was playing Anna, a woman well established among the Russian upper class but pretty bored in her matrimonial state. She has a caring, but emotionally cold-ish husband (Jude Law)and immediately feels attracted by the officer, played by Aaron Taylor Johnson. Their love affair is causing Anna's descent from society: She is openly harassed for leaving her husband and proscribed by Russian upper class, which in the end lead her to suicide.

Leo Tolstoi's classic has been put into scene in a glamourous and glossy way. Opulent costumes, mustaches and music take us on a journey back to imperial Russia, covered in snow, of course.

Knightley was playing excellently: Anna, a woman who has everything she needs but love. Who is consumed by her love for a man, society would not allow her to love. Society condemns her for falling for another man, but would not criticise him for getting involved with a married women, commonly known as double moral.

Jude Law also did a fantastic job: Although I personally prefer him playing the handsome hottie from the holiday he was excellent in the role of the obliged statesman, husband and father. Athough, his appearance was not outstanding in this piece.
More of notice was the part of Stiva, Anna's brother, played by Matthew Macfayden. 

The making of the movie is significant: The theatre is playing a major role in the adaption: As a place of social meet and greet, seen and to be seen we are often taken to observe the characters mingle among their peers. Also, the theatre is used to put in scene differently: Often, parts of the story are shown as a theatre sequence leading into a movie scene. 
The purpose of this could be to highlight the fact that - as Shakespeare said all the world is a stage and that we are at anytime able to change the plot, or putting it on a plate (because we all know Annas fate) for society as a memorial. 
It could also be the case that the director has chosen the stage and the general theatre setting as a different means to tell the story of Anna Karenina to emphasise his uniqueness.


However, the movie has been good entertainment, although not outstanding. Having a general favor for costume movies and back-in-time dramas I absolutely enjoyed Anna Karenina. It was real eye-candy.
The story itself was a bit thin and probably overplayed by all the glossy costumes and starry actors Wright has ensembled. This makes it digestible for a larger audience, thus the audience with a little bit more background information would certainly not be too delighted and not blinded by all the bling bling the director has used (thinking of all the yet different pearl necklaces and jewelry Anna wears all the time).

The character of Anna is a difficult one, for sure. But Kyra Knightley all looking good, flawless and elegant could have been a bit more edgy, especially in the end. Although she did a brilliant job, the desperation and despair could have been a bit more, putting more emphasis her inner drama. 

What I really loved was the clear message of love between Anna and Alexej. It was far beyond a temporary love affair. He immediately said that he has to be where she is. That this love has lead her to kill herself is another aspect of the story. True love exists. Then. Now. Anytime. 
Another scene I particularly liked was the one ballroom dance scene, where Anna continues to dance with Alexej, Kitty observing her with jealousy. Brilliantly done.


At first I was a bit sad not being able to watch this piece at the movies, but now I have to say it was totally worth waiting for the dvd. 
If I compare the movie to similar ones, saying other costume dramas, such as "the other Boleyn girl" or "the Great Gatsby" I must say the movie would be a little less competitive. I would say it is mediocre if someone is demanding an adaption of a classic with such a story, such a cast, such means. 
For lovers of costume movies / costume dramas / literature adaptions with not too high expectations on depth into the characters.

Has anyone of you watched the movie? What are your thoughts? 

Happy Sunday!



  1. Keira was great in the role. I would have loved to see her play Anna Karenina in a movie-like production. I was completely distracted by all the theatrical set up and the constant changes of the backdrop. Nevertheless, it made me curious to see the other previous Anna Karenina films.

    1. Thank you, Arni! I absilutely agree to this distracting due to the theatrical set up. I find that there defo could have been a better way to implement,,, I do love the story though, and will also most definitely try and get my hands on older versions.

  2. Watched this in Moscow...and kinda couldn't get into it. I liked aspects (costuming mostly) but I actually thought some of the directorial choices made Anna come off as far too flirtatious and flippant in the beginning, which in my opinion undermines some of the great character conflicts Tolstoi created! Fun to hear your take on things!!!