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Anna Karenina - Film Review

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by Ranyhyn Akui (subscribe)
A UQ student whose favourite method of procrastination is getting out of the house and enjoying what Brisbane has to offer.
Published February 4th 2013
Tolstoy's epic love story in two hours


In this new film version of Anna Karenina , Tolstoy's grand epic tale of love and betrayal in imperial Russia has been reduced to a two hour film without even a quarter of the depth of the famous novel.

Whilst the film is, without a doubt, visually appealing, it lacks the expansive structure and symbolism of Tolstoy's novel. The movie focuses on the story of Anna, a society wife who engages in a passionate affair with the dashing Count Vronsky, forsaking her husband and son and eventually having to face the consequences of her actions. Keira Knightly is impressive as the passionate but selfish Anna while Jude Law also puts in a good performance as her dull, socially conscious husband. Neither elicited a sympathetic response from me, however, and the parallel stories of the troubled Oblonskys and budding lovers Levin and Kitty where not given enough screen time to explore the contrasts between each relationship as the novel does.

Most of the scenes take place in a beautiful but crumbling theatre, representing the artifice of the Russian society of the times, as though the members of high society performed their lives on a stage, even when behind closed doors. The choreography and costuming of some scenes is a visual and aural delight, as they become almost a dance at times. Instead of adding to the story, however, this constant artificiality distracts, keeping you too busy watching the performances to feel anything for the characters. Hence, while it has picked up a score of awards for cinematography, art direction and costume design, awards for best film or actor are significantly absent.

Nevertheless, the film is quite a faithful adaptation of the novel, albeit a short one, so if you haven't got several days or weeks to plough through Tolstoy's original, it's worth seeing. Any fans of the book, however, I would advise to perhaps give it a miss. I give it six out of ten.
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Why? See a new take on an old classic
When: Out now
Where: A movie theatre near you.
Cost: Varies
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