"The eye says: “Here is Anna Karenina.” A voluptuous lady in black velvet wearing pearls comes before us. But the brain says: “That is no more Anna Karenina than it is Queen Victoria.” For the brain knows Anna almost entirely by the inside of her mind—her charm, her passion, her despair. All the emphasis is laid by the cinema upon her teeth, her pearls, and her velvet." — Virginia Woolf, 1926
This breathtaking, overly theatrical film has made me reevaluate the director's previous work. It is hard to pull off an emotionally charged, old-fashioned love story in such an artificially-heightened presentation, but this film makes it look effortless.
Joe Wright may overdo, but he doesn't disappoint. The bad reception made me think this film was going to be a bomb, but I am joyfully surprised. Its theatrical conception and astonishing art direction gives a fresh aspect to the book, which, I must say, *did not* push me away from the character's dramas. Also, Knightley [again] was superb. I just will never understand why the hell he cast Taylor-Johnson as Vronsky.
Almost impossible to adapt, Wright has a damn good go at the Tolstoy classic. Meta-frames of narration (play in a play construct) add a stylistic flair which is superbly applied. Knightley, Johnson and Law all shine. By no means perfect, but convincingly side-stepping claims of mediocrity.