It takes a fair amount of excavating to reach Leo Tolstoy’s contribution to director Joe Wright’s very busy movie, written by playwright Tom Stoppard. The great Russian author’s 19th-century tale of unhappy families is in there somewhere: Anna (Keira Knightley) jeopardizes her marriage to dry, good Karenin (Jude Law, impressively sympathetic and self-effacing) when she falls passionately in love with the seductive cavalry officer Vronsky (pretty Aaron Taylor-Johnson); the compassionate landowner Levin (Domhnall Gleeson) pines for Princess Kitty (lovely Alicia Vikander, also in A Royal Affair); and so on. But in making the radical artistic choice to tell the story as if it were being enacted by players on a stage, Wright falls passionately in love with his own fanciful artifices. The director, who is prone to static filmmaking disguised as ”opulent” and loyal to his reedy, perpetually high-strung leading lady Knightley, has made an Anna Karenina that is excessively delighted with stagecraft and symbolism. (You see, everyone behaved as if on stage in Russian cosmopolitan society!) Stoppard — himself a master of puzzle-like construction in fine plays including Arcadia — supplies an excellently clean, delicately balanced script. But then, he’s adapting Tolstoy, who knew his stuff. B-
TRAGIC ROMANCE In Anna Karenina, Keira Knightley plays the title character in this unique adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's novel (Laurie Sparham)
Genre: Drama; Starring: Aaron Johnson, Keira Knightley, Jude Law; Director: Joe Wright; Runtime (in minutes): 130; MPAA Rating: R; Distributor: Focus Features
Posted January 17 2015 — 5:04 PM EST
- 'Mad Max: Fury Road' posts quartet of short teasers
- Gene Saks, Tony-winning director, dies
- Scientology doc 'Going Clear' airing Sunday on HBO
- Kids' Choice Awards 2015: See who got slimed
- 'Home' is where the weekend box office crown is: $54M debut
- Destiny's Child reunited at gospel event
- Angelina Jolie at Kids Choice Awards
- Will Ferrell's 15 greatest movie creations
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus in full bloom: New EW portraits
- 'Grey's Anatomy': 10 years, 20 defining moments
- 'Batman v. Superman' character portraits: Like the looks?
- 'American Crime Story' cast: Think each actor looks the part?
- Justin Theroux, Josh Gad, Kristen Stewart & More!