Aren’t I high-brow? Well I tried at least, and decided to make another of my periodic trips to the cinema to see something a bit more cultured. This time I saw the latest in a catalogue of screen adaptations of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. I admit I was sucked in by the spectacular trailer, which looked as much like a perfume commercial as anything (not least because Keira Knightley is in it)
After a parade of rather poorly-aimed trailers for the audience (echoing my seeing the Anna Karenina trailer before Total Recall), I was quickly engrossed by the story once I got to grips with who was who, and got to grips with some peculiar choices of artistic direction.
The biggest curiosity was setting the majority of the film in a theatre, with people moving the scenery around between seamless scenes. A bit of a bewildering way to start, particularly as none of the story is actually set in a theatre, nor was the original story written as a screenplay. Director Joe Wright doesn’t maintain this premise all the way through, which makes me a little confused as to why this device was used at all. At times it feels like it’s going to spring into a musical too, but that’s another diversion.
Still, I can’t deny that it’s a visually stunning film, almost to the point of distracting me from the dialogue. But the star-studded cast do really flesh out their characters well. Keira as the titular Anna seems to be stuck in one of her Chanel commercials, when she’s not looking teary-eyed and conflicted. But still she’s completely watchable and suits the role well.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (nee Johnson, taking part of his cougar wife’s surname, how modern) was devastatingly handsome, with as many costume changes as Keira and those piercing blue eyes… I may not have been entirely concentrating when he was acting, apologies. The supporting cast, including a straight-faced Soviet Jude Law and whats-his-name off Spooks, you know, plus all the supporting ladies felt well-characterised.
All in all, it really didn’t feel like hard work – a worry I always have with these adaptations of old novels. But fans of these sorts of films shouldn’t be disappointed, and even ignorant try-hards like me aren’t left behind. What more could you want?