Another fresh twist on a classic tale, done by Joe Wright. The love story brings moments of both incredible lightness and dramatic intensity, enhanced by the stage sets and rhythm. However, those feelings don't last for long, which dims the power of the movie.
A beautiful effort of scenery, photography and music. However, the script falls short to compel the vastness of its predecessor. Knightley tries to revive the flatness of the story (although her male counterpart is sadly not as good). A good ensemble, visually unforgettable, but with a dragging storytelling.
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.
Don't expect paltry things like character psychology to push through the set pieces. I think there's about an hour of formal whiz-bangery that you'd be a fool to resist, and then a few things that are, like, two-shots. And it's edited so that the actors feel like they are exchanging lines of pre-written dialogue as quickly as possible. Law (!), Knightley are still in exceptional form. This feels Italian.
Joe Wright seems to be determined not only to put a fresh coat of paint on some absolute classics, but also to equip every great literary heroine with the face of Keira Knightley. With "Anna Karenina" he has perfected his signature style of theatrical and highly symbolic cinematography and delicate entanglement of sound and score. Like in "Atonement" he can't quite hold his tempo throughout the entire film though.
"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