Like most alleged love-it-or-hate-it propositions, the new film version of
Much of this "Anna Karenina" takes place inside a 19th-century Russian playhouse, on the stage itself, in the wings, up in the fly loft above the stage, in the auditorium itself. The notion is to examine Tolstoy's theatrically extravagant characters so that they all appear to be starring in separate and gradually intersecting operas.
Then, when "Anna Karenina" retreats to a country estate or some other rural setting, Wright pulls in another style entirely, that of realistic scenery and atmosphere.
Wright directed "Pride & Prejudice" and "
Maybe so, but theatrics are the heart of this "Anna Karenina." Now and then, in clever and visually enveloping ways, Wright's two realities blend together seamlessly, and the movie becomes more than a concept. My resistance to much of "Anna Karenina" has to do with Wright's antsy quality as a director, which wasn't the case with either "Pride & Prejudice" or "Atonement." At its most frantic the cutting and staging here veers perilously close to Baz Luhrmann "Moulin Rouge!" territory for comfort. Or for Tolstoy. I'd rather have seen Wright's carefully elaborated production on a stage, instead of in a movie partly on a stage. See it for yourself. You may fall under the intended spell. Or you may voice an opinion very much like Aaron Taylor-Johnson's Vronsky, who tells Anna early on: "I'm getting out of this operetta and going home."