For the month of February we’re going to look at romantic period movies.
Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina
For those of you who live under a rock, Anna Karenina was written by Leo Tolstoy in 1877, though it’s fine if you didn’t know the date. Anna Karenina has had lots of movie and tv versions. This one by Joe Wright from 2012 has to be the worse version of Anna Karenina ever made. Even if we separate this movie from the book it’s still terrible on every level.
Aaron Johnson as Count Vronsky & Keira Knightley Anna Karenina
First the love story. Now I won’t go full of comparing the book with the movie, but I will say that Anna Karenina isn’t so much about love or romance it’s more about society and marriage. However to make an audience feel for the characters they need to be likable, we have to care about the love story in a movie so we can feel emotions. This version takes the Star Wars Episode II approach to love. Anna and Vronsky are two attractive people who are in a forbidden romance. They literally meet, think each other is hot, Vronsky stalks her and boom! They are in love or lust, honestly there isn’t much of a different. The only emotion I felt during their own story arc was when Vronsky horse Frou-Frou dies and like any bad script we are TOLD Vronsky loves his horse, we don’t see it visually in a visual median.
Domhnall Gleeson as Levin & Alicia Vikander as Kitty
Anna and Vronsky are shown in parallel with Levin and Kitty who are in love, not lust. Levin pines for Kitty while Kitty pines for Vronsky till Vronsky throws her over for Anna. Now in the book the story of Kitty and Levin is super dull and boring while and Anna and Vronsky were more interesting. In the movie however it’s the opposite. This could be because they are likable people or that Alicia Vikander played the role of Kitty from better that Keira Knightley who was beyond unconvincing. She was so ill-cast especially when a far better actress for Anna is already in the movie, Michelle Dockery. As well as Aaron Johnson was unbelievable as Vronsky. He looked like he came out of the 1970’s trying to be a Sergeant Pepper knock-off.
Aaron Johnson as Count Vronsky
Speaking of style, oh dear lord this movie. So the idea is that Russian Society is like a performance, so the idea is that the characters are on stage. This is such a misguide direction that gets in the way so there is no room for the viewer to feel anything because you’re trying to figure out where the fuck everyone is in relation to their own meta performance. Plus there is literally no reason for why some things are on stage, or backstage or not on stage at all.
Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina
Here are some examples;
When Anna sees her son in his room, it’s on stage but having relations with her husband is not. Why? It should be the other way around. Anna loves her son but not her husband. The idea of her love for her son being on display on a stage is contrary to her character while he time with her husband is not on display at all not even backstage.
When Levin goes to see his poor addict brother it’s “backstage”? This makes sense but it’s dumb since more of Levin scenes aren’t on stage except the ones in the beginning of the movie and after a point they just don’t even bother. I’m willing to say that this was intentional but it really makes it feel like the movie either ran out steam with the concept who figured it was stupid since it’s in your face at the start and just goes alway till the last scene. Hey movie, if your going to a sophomoric artistic direction be consistent so the viewer can understand your creative intent.
Aaron Johnson as Count Vronsky & Keira Knightley
Also there are the costumes, which again fall into a half-baked style concept. The idea of the look is combining Victorian bustles with 1950’s silhouettes and accessories. When the movie first came out, I hated this, now I just don’t care. Really this look only applies sometimes to some characters AND again you see it more in spade at the start and it’s only pertains to the main characters which either means the movie couldn’t go full on with their vision or the style of Imperial Russian society is all other the place with regards to style. In any case it takes you right out the movie and since with the stage direction obvious metaphor and lack of emotion you were never invested in the movie to start. Did anyone actually finish the movie or cared about the characters? Because there that maintains intertest. I mean when Anna dies it’s like “Thank god now the movie is over.”
If you want to watch an Anna Karenina version, there 14 other better versions to watch. If you want a movie that is style of substance, I mean you could watch loads of of the movies like Star Wars Episode II since it’s pretty much the same love story with no substance and style (sorry, I know people now like the prequels). However if you want an Anna Karenina movie with no substance, a vague attempt at style and to be bored for over two hours, yeah, then you should totally watch it but that is a weird list of wants for a movie.
This movie has one of the most annoying dance scene ever. The dance moves are some the stupidest moves ever seen in a movie. And there is also has a fart joke in it. A fart joke for really no reason, it’s not even funny.