Anna Karenina review | EW.com

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Anna Karenina

Anna KareninaIt 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...Anna KareninaDramaPT130MRIt 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...2012-11-16Focus Features
TRAGIC ROMANCE In Anna Karenina , Keira Knightley plays the title character in this unique adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's novel

TRAGIC ROMANCE In Anna Karenina, Keira Knightley plays the title character in this unique adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's novel (Laurie Sparham)

B-

Anna Karenina

Genre: Drama; Starring: Aaron Johnson, Keira Knightley, Jude Law; Director: Joe Wright; Release Date Limited: 11/16/2012; Status: In Season; Runtime (in minutes): 130; MPAA Rating: R; Distributor: Focus Features

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-

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