Monday, January 14, 2013

Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina is a 2012 film directed by Joe Wright based on the novel by the same name written by Leo Tolstoy 1877.

Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina
Jude Law as Alexei Karenin
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Count Vronsky
Domhnall Gleeson as Constantin Levin
Alicia Vikander as Kitty

A theater curtain is raised and the film begins. Anna has just received a letter from her brother Stiva to help him reconcile with his wife, Dolly, who has banished him from seeing her or their children after she discovered that he was having an affair with the children's governess. Before she leaves, her husband, Alexei Karenin, warns her about fixing the problems of others. On the train of Moscow, Anna meets Countess Vronskaya, who is known throughout all society as an adulteress, but finds the subject of her reputation trivial because of her old age. She is instead more focused on her son, Count Vronsky. At the station, Anna meets Count Vronsky and the attraction between the two is felt immediately. As they prepare to leave, a worker is caught beneath the train tracks and is killed. To impress Anna, Vronsky decides to give money to the deceased man's family.

In Moscow, Stiva's meets up with his friend, Konstantin Levin, who professes his love for Stiva's sister-in-law, Kitty, and seeks his advice on what to do. Levin proposes to Kitty but she refuses, believing  that a match with a handsome cavalry officer named Vronsky will be is imminent. Levin then goes to visit his elder brother, Nikolai, who has abandoned all the grandeur of the aristocracy for the life of a poor man. He takes a prostitute as his wife and bids that Levin should do the same and marry one of the peasants working on his estate. Drained by these events, Levin returns to his country estate.

Anna convinces Dolly to take Stiva back. At the ball, Kitty truly earns her title as the "Belle of St. Petersburg Society", looking radiant in white, until Anna shows up, dressed in black. Kitty must dance with the men in her dance card, while Anna and Vronsky dance the night away, upsetting Kitty. Anna notices this and decides to leave feeling that she has upstaged Kitty. Anna boards a train back to St. Petersburg and at a rest meets Vronsky who boldly declares his love for her. Anna tells him that can not be together and but Vronsky will not take no for an answer. Vronsky begins appearing wherever Anna does. During a soiree held by Princess Betsy, people are abuzz with gossip and Anna and Vronsky. Vronsky begins to flirt openly with Anna and these interactions are seen by Karenin, who warns Anna not to give people a reason to talk. Anna denies the rumors and shortly afterward meets Vronsky at a hotel and they make love.

Anna and Vronsky are staying at a country estate when Anna tells Vronsky that she is pregnant with his child. At the horse races, Vronsky suffers a fall from his horse causing Anna to scream in shock, this reveals the true nature of their relationship to the whole of society. Karenin takes his wife home where she confesses to him that she is indeed Vronsky's lover. Vronsky demands that she and Karenin divorce but Karenin does not allow her to and knowing the consequences tells him that they will find a way.

Levin returns to Moscow where Stiva urges him to propose to Kitty again, since a match between her a Vronsky is not out of the question, but Levin is hesitant considering what happened last time. He leaves to his summer estate and spends his days out of the fields, helping his men plow the land. One morning, before work has started, he catches a glimpse of Kitty with her head out of the window in a carriage, looking serene and angelic. They are then reunited at Stiva's house where they profess their love for each other. They marry.

Karenin catches wind that Vronsky has been at his house despite what Karenin has said about him not being allowed to be there. He searches through Anna's desk and finds love letters. He declares that he will divorce her and take away her son. While staying at Stiva's place, Karenin receives a letter stating that Anna is dying in childbirth. She begs his forgiveness and berates Vronsky for being nothing like Karenin. He readily forgives her, asking her to forgive him for the way he treated her. Anna survives but immediately returns Vronsky.

One day, Levin returns home to discover that his brother, Nikolai, is sick and is being nursed by his prostitute wife. Levin is quick to banish the fallen woman believing that Kitty will be outraged to be in such a woman's presence but on the contrary, Kitty goes to nurse Nikolai alongside Masha. Levin comes to realize that Kitty has indeed grown up and that innocent love can bloom into something more.

Anna decides to go the opera despite Vronsky's warnings. At the opera, attendees look at her in disgust and one of the atendees makes publicly insults Anna and leave and Anne begins to understand that society does not accept her. Anna remains composed for the rest of the opera but cries upon returning back to the hotel. Vronsky is able to sooth Anna with a mixture of laudanum and water. The next day Anna has lunch at a restaurant but is ignored by everyone except Dolly. When Anna sees Vronsky being picked up by Princess Sorokhina, she loses her grip on reality and she kills herself by throwing herself in front of a train screaming "OH GOD FORGIVE ME"

Levin returns home in the rain to find Kitty giving their newborn son a bath. Kitty asks him what is, and Levin cradling his baby boy in his arms looks at her, with tears in his eyes.Stiva and his family eat with Levin and Kitty, and Stiva looking weary and sad, goes outside lights a cigarette, mourning the loss of his sister.

Karenin is seen enjoying a book in the meadow where Serozha and Anna's illegitimate child, Anya, playing among the daisies growing in the field. It ends with a wide shot, it is revealed that the field is on a theater stage where the film began. Thus the whole film's concept of the Russian aristocracy living their lives as if on a stage.

I give 3.5/5 and ma femme, who also saw the movie, gives it a 2/5. Oh what a surprise, Keira Knightley in another period piece... but we here at Gatchina Palace love her it. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING VISUALS. Wright's decision to stage the movie on a play didn't disturb me as it did ma femme and I thought it LOOKED beautiful. Costumes were great and I believe whole heartedly that they deserve the Academy Award and NOT Snow White's and the Hunstman - sorry Kristen Stewart fans. Story wise: Meh. Anna Karenina is comprised of two stories; love coming together with Kitty and Levin and love falling apart with Anna, Karenin and Vronsky. Kitty and Vronsky's story paled in comparison to Anna's so I wasn't particularly attracted to either character (although I'll admit that their love confession was undeniably cute). Another Keira Knightley with a similar theme of adultery is The Duchess which I prefer to this movie because unlike the Duchess where Knightley's husband cheated on her and raped her, Karenin was a good guy and I, being recently engaged and everything, do not like adulterers who cheat because they are just bored. I thought Jude Law was great in the role and added a depth to the character to Karenin that I couldn't get from reading the book. In short, this movie is for those artistically inclined than the average movie goer.

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