Sunday, November 18, 2012

Anna Karenina

I had Joe Wright’s “Hanna” on my top-ten list last year, and he’s done all he can to bring visual flair to Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” (by way of Tom Stoppard), imaginatively transposing the Russian love story to an elaborate, ever-shifting, multi-layered stage set. And Keira Knightley, who’s become highly reliable and occasionally (as in last year’s “A Dangerous Method”) quite bold and risk-taking, puts passion into the title role of a government minister’s wife cast out of society by virtue of an injudicious affair before ever really entering it.

Jude Law is typecast as the meek, mild-mannered, bespectacled bureaucrat, cuckolded by young Count Vronsky (Aaron Johnson of the John Lennon biopic “Nowhere Boy”). There’s something foppish and jejune and – dare I say – girly about his Vronsky that makes his and Anna’s torrid romance hard to buy. Subplots involving a time zone’s worth of counts and countesses go nowhere. The movie really only works as a snowed-under fashion show, all sables and ermines and glimmering silver earrings. The budget for Knightley’s ushankas alone will indubitably keep some Muscovite milliner knee-deep in rubles this winter.

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