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Anna KareninaNew film adaptation


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#46 Jayne

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 08:20 PM

I finally saw this film on Monday night and I've been chewing it over ever since This is usually a good sign! I like movies that make me think. I've also seen Joe Wright's "Atonement" and "Pride and Prejudice", movies with the same female star. I've concluded that Mr. Wright is Britain's Stephen Spielberg for costume dramas. His films have inventive, visually gorgeous cinematography, costumes to die for, top notch screen writers, one or two casting revelations, one or two horribly miscast actors, one or two very long tracking shots, and end product films that make you feel like you just ate desert, when you wanted a savory main course.

Matthew Macfadyen was dead-on wonderful as Oblonsky, I liked that he played against type and "disappeared" into the role. The mustache was a minor character of its own. The entire supporting cast was well cast, Kitty was appealing without being cloying, and her romance with Levin was given a deft, light touch. Jude Law made Karenin into a deeply sympathic character. I know some envision a greying, more elderly man. But this depiction of a tightly wound man, with deep convictions, carrying the weight of heavy responsibilities really resonated. My heart went out to Karenin and I felt next to nothing for Vronsky.

Which brings to me to my great, gaping hole of casting mistakes: Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Vronsky. In my mind's eye, Vronsky is a full blooded man of action who lights Anna Karenina's passion in opposition to her technocrat husband's rectitude. The bleach blonde hair looks like they used cheap Sun-In, and this characterization is merely a callow dandy that even teenagers would see through.

Based on the positive reviews on this thread and from co-workers, I tried to see Keira Knightley with new eyes. While she avoids some of her usual habits, the character just never develops, and I felt nothing of her despair when she finally commits suicide. It's really sad when you're sitting in the cinema trying to re-cast roles before the movie ends. I think of Anna as more passionate, with a curvier figure of a full grown woman who has already given birth. Her descent to suicide wasn't well developed or convincing. Long before credits rolled, I decided Rachel Weisz would have been the perfect fit for Anna.

I liked the theatrical setting, it helped me suspend reality and jump into that world, and accept that not every single line from the book would go into this movie. This would be a re-imagining of the Tolstoy story. I was game, and all the theatrical set changes were fascinating to watch. I was still in that frame of mind during the waltz scene, but it got rather tiresome and by the end of the dance I wished they had axed the extraneous hand choreography. Over time, the inventive in-theatre staging seemed to peter out and the movie switched from the model train to regular trains, offices in the upper portions of the theatre gave way to more traditional looking offices, etc. Did they run out of ideas for the theatrical transformations? Or did they run out of time and money?

The staging of the horse race was the expected revelation, along with Mr. Macfadyen's affectionate scoundrel Oblonsky. So the movie wasn't a failure, or a total success. It was a flawed feast for the eyes. Go see it, but pay matinee price.

#47 sandik

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 10:12 PM

Which brings to me to my great, gaping hole of casting mistakes: Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Vronsky....The bleach blonde hair looks like they used cheap Sun-In,


I thought I was the only person left who remembered that product! I had an unfortunate experience with trying to be a summer blonde...

I am still hoping to get to see this before the Oscars, but it's looking shakey... maybe a mid-week trip.

#48 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 11:07 AM

When I saw it I, I kept thinking on Charlize Theron as a Hollywood Karenina. Agree..?

#49 Jayne

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 12:46 PM

Yes, I think Ms. Theron could pull it off. I saw a picture of her recently with her hair shaved down to about 1cm length, her natural color is quite dark and I think she could pull off the role. She is very tall, though, and would need a tall Vronsky.

#50 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 02:13 PM

Yes, I think Ms. Theron could pull it off. I saw a picture of her recently with her hair shaved down to about 1cm length, her natural color is quite dark and I think she could pull off the role. She is very tall, though, and would need a tall Vronsky.


And she has that dramatic, femme fatale bearing, aside from being stunningly, womanly beautiful. Knightley was too childish and skinny for my taste.

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#51 dirac

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 04:50 PM

Thank you for posting, Jayne. Weisz already played a variation on Anna this year in "The Deep Blue Sea." The movie and her performance were a bit disappointing for this viewer, but both are worth checking out.

I've concluded that Mr. Wright is Britain's Stephen Spielberg for costume dramas


He wishes. :)

#52 dirac

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 01:50 PM

This film does not seem to be getting much love in terms of nominations/year-end best of lists. No SAG nominations, no awards from various film critics associations, to my kjnowledge. I suspect it may get nominations for non-acting categories, like costumes.


It won for best costume design.

Durran has been nominated three times before – in 2006 for Pride & Prejudice and 2008 for Atonement, both directed by Anna Karenina's Joe Wright – but this is her first success.


I tend to agree with cubanmiamiboy that the movie was overdressed, especially the leading lady, but often as not that's what gets recognized at awards time.

#53 rg

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 02:31 PM

f.y.i. Colleen Atwood designed the costumes for Ratmansky's recent FROM FOREIGN LANDS for SFB.

#54 dirac

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 02:48 PM

Thanks. I thought that name rang a bell. Atwood has won three Academy Awards, I see. Not bad going.


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