Capsule Film Review: Anna Karenina (2012)
While adapting one of the most popular literary classics of all times, British director Joe Wright, whose reputation had been built on stylish period dramas and literary adaptations, felt the need to offer "something completely different to the audience". The plot, set in 1874 Czarist Russia, generally follows the novel and tells the story about Anna Karenina (played by Wright's muse Keira Knightley) being neglected by her husband Count Karenin (played by Jude Law) and seeking comfort in torrid and scandalous love affair with dashing cavalry officer Vronsky (played by Aaron Taylor-Young). Script by Tom Stoppard, however, offers a new approach to Leo Tolstoy's text and put less emphasis on melodrama and more emphasis on author's Christian socialist beliefs, embodied by the character of Levin (played by Domnhall Green). This refreshing touch is, however, ruined by Wright's decision to shoot this film literally on stage with characters acting surrounded by obviously fake sets. Wright, known for his tendency to "show off", tried to explain his approach with belief that the protagonists "lived in lie and played various parts like in theatre". Perhaps that was good idea, but in this film it proved to be distracting and over-pretentious for Anna Karenina to be taken seriously.