UK Release date: 7th September 2012
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 31st August 2013.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
This is probably not the kind of film you would normally associate with my good self. Well, I like a challenge and it’s good, every now and then, to step outside of your comfort zone and try something a little different. Now, I must confess to having seen the (I think) 1948 version of this story back when I was very young on a wet Sunday afternoon when we only had three TV channels to choose from. I remember being very bored and swore never to watch this kind of twaddle again; my sister seemed to enjoy it though. And so, well outside of my comfort zone, I sat down to watch a more modern take on the story. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
A married woman, Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) leaves her home in St Petersburg to visit her brother Oblonsky (Matthew Macfadyen) in Moscow. He is having trouble with his marriage and has asked her to smooth things over with his wife. Whilst there she meets Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and immediately falls for him. A tempestuous affair ensues and it soon comes to the notice of Anna’s husband, Karenin (Jude Law). Despite his many warnings, she continues the affair and soon finds herself ostracised from society. What is she to do? We also have a sub-plot about a young man, Levin (Domhnall Gleeson) and the young woman he has fallen for, Kitty (Alicia Vikander), who happens to also be smitten by Vronsky. Complicated stuff, but you know it will all work out in the end; or will it?
Beautifully shot using a very theatrical style. In fact the majority of the action uses a theatre as its backdrop and I even spotted a section of stop-motion animation at one point. Sumptuous costumes, for which it won an Oscar, and some brilliantly choreographed set pieces are the backbone of this production. Of course we must not forget it is a drama and there’s plenty of that with some really excellent performances to back it up. Keira Knightly went up in my estimation with this one; as did Jude Law; they both put in great performances. Also worthy of note was Aaron Taylor-Johnson; who I have watched with interest over the past few years and is rapidly growing into a very fine actor (& yes, he is that guy from ‘Kick-Ass’). I was a little concerned that it may be a case of ‘style over substance’, but as it wore on I became more and more engrossed in the characters and the storyline. I guess this shows that the drama did manage to shine through (at least for me). The only thing that let it down was the fact the sub-plot involving Levin and Kitty didn’t really have a lot to do with Anna and Vronsky by the time we saw the last of them; it seemed a little disjointed. Over all though, a very worthy watch and one, I’m sure my sister would definitely enjoy!
SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED
My score: 7.7/10.
IMDb Score: 6.6/10 (based on 39,114 votes when this review was written).
MetaScore: 63/100: (Based on 41 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 52/100 (based on 48,652 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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