Anna Karenina 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… Anna Karenina 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… 2012-11-16 R PT130M Drama Aaron Johnson Keira Knightley Jude Law Focus Features
Movie Review

Anna Karenina (2012)

MPAA Rating: R
TRAGIC ROMANCE In Anna Karenina , Keira Knightley plays the title character in this unique adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's novel
Image credit: Laurie Sparham
TRAGIC ROMANCE In Anna Karenina, Keira Knightley plays the title character in this unique adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's novel
EW's GRADE
B-

Details Limited Release: Nov 16, 2012; Rated: R; Length: 130 Minutes; Genre: Drama; With: Aaron Johnson, Keira Knightley and Jude Law; 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-

Originally posted Nov 14, 2012 Published in issue #1234 Nov 23, 2012 Order article reprints