Saturday, December 01, 2012
Anna Karenina (2012)
Princess Anna Arkadyevna Karenina is part of the upper crust of Russian aristocracy whose rather bland 'just so' life is turned upside-down upon meeting Count Vronsky, a handsome cavalry officer. Their mutual attraction flies in the face of her status as a married woman and mother. Left with choosing either her husband and child or a passionate affair, she picks the latter, compromising her loveless marriage and her social status. As she fights to keep both disparate desires from slipping away, she spirals off into delusions and paranoia, leaving the audience wondering how she will extricate herself from the corner she's painted herself into.
I wasn't sure what to make of the singing that intermittently popped up or the balletic movements peppered throughout. It made for very fluid movement, especially during the dance scene which had a very ethereal feel to it, but I wasn't sure why it was in the film. As well, the pace was rather frustrating for the first half of the movie. It runs at breakneck speed and doesn’t give the viewer a chance to absorb what’s been said or even enjoy the scenes. The sets are sumptuous and as someone who appreciates period films, I wanted to luxuriate in them, not watch them pass by like so many train cars. During the second half, after things started to slow down there is this great scene between Kitty and Levin. Very little is said but they speak through a set of alphabet blocks. It's a very quiet yet intimate scene that really speaks to who their characters are.
My final verdict is that the film is very pretty but Tolstoy's message is either non existent or buried so far underneath layers of silk, fur and snow as to be unrecognizable to anyone other than a Tolstoy scholar. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes period films but I wouldn't expect to fully comprehend what Tolstoy was trying to say without reading the book first.