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We have been favored with a new film version of Anna Karenina, as Keira Knightley prepares to go toe-to-toe with Greta Garbo and Vivien Leigh. I fear this will be another example of Joe Wright converting a literary work of high complexity into a vehicle for his leading lady, but you never know. Screenplay by Stoppard. Jude Law is playing Karenin. Hmmmmm.......

The 27-year-old star plays the title role in the big-budget film adapted from Leo Tolostoy's classic novel alongside Jude Law, 39, and claims that becoming Anna, who cheats on her husband, proved difficult for someone more used to playing nice girls.


Instead of stately homes or snow-covered palaces, this Anna Karenina largely unfolds inside a crumbling playhouse whose stage, wings and auditorium provide settings for the action.

At one point a railway station, at another a race course, the theatre becomes an all-encompassing world intended to reflect the characters' obsession with etiquette, decorum and manners.

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I'll probably go see it, but if I were looking for a young female lead, I would have cast Mia Wasikowska of "Jane Eyre." I'd have loved to see Tom McCamus as Karenin.

I can't think of any age-appropriate Vronsky's offhand. Benedict Cumberbatch has too much energy. Or Levin's for that matter.

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I thought Wasikowska miscast in Jane Eyre but then I haven't been wildly impressed with her in general. Both she and Knightley are a bit young for Anna but Wasikowska especially – she can't be more than 25 at the outside, I should think. McCamus is an interesting choice for the part, he could do it.

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Fontaine was too pretty for Jane - almost any female star would be - but she'd played mousy girls previously so I don't think she was too unexpected in the role at the time. Welles was a reasonable, even obvious, choice for Rochester, even if one has reservations about the end result.

If nothing else, this new film should be a visual feast of costumes and scenery.

If you take a look at the BBC item, abatt, it looks as if the project began that way but ended up rather different, which could be good or bad. As the article notes, the risk is that you alienate audience members who've come for the ruffles and the views.

I never saw the Sophie Marceau version - has anyone?

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Trailers for this film are currently dominating every TV ad-break here. It looks very pretty, if a little bizarre with everything set in a theatre, but I was struck by how young the cast looked, particularly Karenin. If I remember rightly didn't Anna marry a top civil servant in her late twenties for financial security? That would put her into her mid 30's when she started the affair and surely Vronsky was a man of a similar age, a rugged military man, not the cute blond toy-boy we see in this film.

It's showing all over London right now, even at my local South London cinema, for a second I thought about seeing it last Friday, but as one of the other screens was showing Ted I chose to see that instead and didn't regret my choice.

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It's been a long time since I read the book but I don't remember that, Mashinka. I've always thought of Anna as around 30 or so because her son is eight years old, but since women married very young it's possible she could have been around Knightley's age, now that I think about it. Mid-thirties is a bit high IMO, although I think Vivien Leigh was about 35 when she played it - in that telling Vronsky was a somewhat younger man. Karenin is definitely about twenty years older, so Law's too young, he can't be more than forty at the outside. I agree that Vronsky is about Anna's age.

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I'm planning to see it because the setting in the theater sounds interesting.

The horse race is even set in the opera house! You can't top that! LOL

I absolutely loved this version of Anna Karenina. I have recently re-read the book in anticipation of the movie, and the movie is pretty faithful for the most part even if some of the dialogue is different and the movie adds sex scenes as well as having many of the scenes take place in a theatre. I feel like it adds to the artifice of the lifestyle that the upper classes had to live. Many of Levin's scenes are outside in contrast. Anna is compared with Frou Frou (the horse) more obviously than in the book. I think most of the choices the director made "got it right" as far as creating the right mood for the scenes. I was also surprised at how I enjoyed the postmodern aspect of the movie. The only thing I didn't feel was right was the actor who played Vronsky. I don't find him handsome at all. Maybe others do. That was not the Vronsky I pictured in my mind, but all the other characters looked and acted very close to how I pictured in my mind, which might be why I loved the film.

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The only thing I didn't feel was right was the actor who played Vronsky. I don't find him handsome at all. Maybe others do. That was not the Vronsky I pictured in my mind, but all the other characters looked and acted very close to how I pictured in my mind, which might be why I loved the film.

That would be Jude Law, right...? the one time carrier of the "Sexiest man alive" title...

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No, Vronsky is Anna's lover. Jude Law played her husband. I thought he looked and acted the way I pictured Karenin to be. I did not picture Vronsky, however, to be blonde or the way he looked in the movie.

Oh, I thought that he played Vronsky. Isn't Law too young to play Karenin...?

I thought he looked old enough for the role. I did not picture Karenin to be old. I pictured him in my head to be middle-aged. Jude Law is probably a little too young, but somehow the make up and glasses and beard helped him look close to what I pictured Karenin to look like in my head.

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Saw this last night. Some good things, others much less so. The gimmick of staging the action in and out of a theater has mixed results (I began to expect that the actors would get hopelessly lost, Spinal Tap-style, and have to ask directions from a stagehand) and elsewhere Joe Wright borrows from Baz Luhrmann, again to mixed effect - scene after scene seems to be set up with musical cues for numbers that never happen and emotionally the movie never takes hold. Brechtian distancing is all very well, but when Anna's about to plunge under the train and you're checking your watch, it's not a good sign. Levin and Kitty get more screen time in this version, and one of the best scenes, but other plot points get dropped or elided to make room.

The downsizing of the great female roles to fit Miss Knightley continues apace and the progression from Garbo and Leigh to Marceau and Knightley leads one to question Darwin anew. This Anna is more overtly unsympathetic than usual, not a problem in itself and close to Tolstoy but Anna does have to have passion, and Knightley doesn’t have the weight to make lines like "Murderer. Murderer." and "I am damned" register. In period costume she often looks like she's playing dress-up. When emotional intensity is called for she does her usual jaw-jutting and baring of scary teeth. (With her mouth closed she can be gorgeous.) Law's softer, less authoritative husband is a better match up for her than previous movie Karenins – Rathbone would have subdued her with one curl of the lip and she would have melted down under the beady eye of Richardson. Law can't really do Bad in Bed - he's about as convincing as Warren Beatty confessing his impotence to Faye Dunaway - but he played against type very successfully here even if his jejune co-stars don't offer much in the way of competition.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson seems to have been cast to make Kieron Moore feel better, and his baby-faced Vronsky is so obviously on the make that you’d think even this flighty and neurotic Anna would dismiss him out of hand. (The cast is big on full-lipped starlets. I’m talking about the men.) Also his curly hair, moustache, and manner often reminded me, distractingly, of a younger Gene Wilder as Baron Frankenstein. Ex-Mr. Darcy Matthew Macfadyen as Oblonsky does come through.

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I haven't seen that version, cubanmiamiboy, thanks. I will have to look it up. I actually went into the cinema resolved to judge Knightley on her own merits, but you see how it turned out. For the most part I wasn't mentally comparing-and-contrasting, except for the scenes with Anna and her son where invidious comparisons with Garbo were inescapable. I haven't seen another Anna on the big or small screens who matched her power of maternal feeling. Knightley seemed more like his big sister.

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