Once again Keira Knightley is starring in a period drama. Usually in her films Keira spends half her time running around in a ballgown with a pout constantly plastered on her face. Anna Karenina is no different, but even it's pretty good.
From what I gathered, Anna Karenina is about a rich wife and mother who throws her life away to be with a man she thinks she loves. I've never read the book so I can't give a comparison but the film was engaging and stylish.
It reminded me of a musical. There are scenes with a lot of exaggerated choreographed movment. Not to mention that it was shot in a theatre. They must have been inspired by Baz Luhrmann's lavish style of film making.
Knightley as a mum
The first problem I had was that I just can't imagine Keira as a mother. A babysitter, a sister, a aunt maybe but not a mother. I think she comes across too naive to be able to look after a child. But that might just be the character and not Keira's acting. Other than that I was pleasantly surprised by Keira's performance. She was emotive and watchable even though I didn't find the character particularly likeable.
Keira Knightley needs to come back to the future
I had lost a lot of respect for Keira as an actress because of her endless pouting on screen, but Anna Karenina gained some of that respect back. Keira was a little bit more daring with how far she pushed her acting but she still stayed safely in her period drama comfort zone. And after Seeking a Friend for the End of the World had such a lacklustre box office performance, I doubt she will be leaving that comfort zone any time soon.
The most exciting part of Anna Karenina is that the film is predominantly shot in a theatre as if it were a play. This is a seldom used concept and is even more rarely executed well. I personally liked its use in Anna Karenina. It made the film seem decadent and luxurious. Having said that, I didn't like how half of the film was shot in the theatre and the other half wasn't. This was distracting and strange. I don't understand why they didn't fully commit to the concept. The overall style was very rich and glamorous, but is this a case of style over substance?
I thought it was balanced but some might feel the design was overpowering and distracting. The richness of it all actually made me feel submerged in the drama and lives of the characters.
Some of the other performances were also good, especially from Jude Law who was a fine Aleksei Karenina. It was a part he wouldn't normally play. It was a lot more serious and adult. It was nice to see someone taking risks with the roles they play. Cough, unlike Keira, cough.
Anna Karenina is full to the brim with sparkly outfits, colourful sets and over-the-top makeup. Luckily, it also has some compelling drama to back it up. The ending is bitter sweet but will not leave you dissatisfied. I very much enjoyed being able to escape to the rich and romantic world of Anna Karenina.