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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

More 'Anna Karenina' Reviews

Here are some more film reviews I've compiled from the UK critics about Joe Wright's Anna Karenina (starring former Pride & Prejudice stars Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen). Some really nice and positive reviews especially with Keira & Matthew's performances, Joe Wright's bold approach on this new adaptation of AK and the rest of the cast and crew including Oscar winning composer Dario Marianelli (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement) and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey.

Anna Karenina opens in UK Cinemas this Friday!

Check out and read the following AK reviews below...

Anna Karenina Review (via THN)
As a fan of Joe Wright’s past book-to-screen adaptations (PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, ATONEMENT) I’m not sure what I was expecting from his latest foray – an adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s 1877 novel of the same name. From what I saw from the trailer, I knew it was going to be on a different level to the countryside setting of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, and maybe even darker (content-wise) than the war-torn ATONEMENT. I’d also heard that the production team had fashioned the sets from an old, empty theatre, so filming could move swiftly from one ‘location’ to another. Clever, right? You haven’t seen anything yet…

But the film wouldn’t be as fantastic as it is without the witty dialogue. Macfadyen (as Karenina’s brother, Oblonsky) is the comedic driving force, with line after line of clever comments (and some very animated eyebrows!). That’s not to say that ANNA KARENINA is a comedy – far from it. The film is dark, almost ominous, in its themes of love, betrayal, deceit and death.

Everyone has an impact on Anna’s life, which makes Knightley believable. She truly looks affected by what the other characters say, from their snide comments and whispers to the dirty looks across the ballroom. At first, I wasn’t sure whether to like or loathe Anna, but by the end, more than anything, I pitied her. Knightley brings her to life, proving once again how brilliant an actress she really is.

ANNA KARENINA is fabulous. Charming, engaging, entertaining, it comfortably fits its 2 hours 10 minutes running time. Every scene is key and packed to the brim with talent. Superb! Read full review!
Anna Karenina Review via Sky
Joe Wright, who has directed Knightley twice before in Atonement and Pride and Prejudice, manages perhaps for the first time ever to give us an Anna who invites both our pity and our scorn.

Wright has said in recent interviews that Knightley “has grown up” and her performance certainly has. She is wild, passionate, womanly, veering wildly from composed belle of the ball to pathetic girl in the feverish grip of an infatuation that makes her monstrous, eventually even to herself.

Surprisingly given her past collaboration with Wright, Knightley is actually playing against type here. Normally we are supposed to find her likeable in a strong sort of way, but here she is unlikeable in a weak way.  

There is not a single weak link in the cast, all of whom play their roles perfectly, with special notice going to Knightley herself, to a very amusing Matthew MacFayden as her brother Oblonsky and to Domnhall Gleeson (son of Brendan) as Levin.  

This is an extraordinary film, a visual treat and an emotional rollercoaster that will keep you gripped all the way through even if you are familiar with the ending. If anyone was worried Tolsoy’s world might be too intense or outdated for modern audiences, they can rest assured: this is a very modern piece of film-making indeed.
Anna Karenina (12A) Film Review via The View London
5 stars rating out of 5!

With sumptuous production design and breathtakingly imaginative direction, this is a thoroughly engaging, powerfully emotional period drama with a superb script and a terrific central performance from Keira Knightley.

Knightley is superb, delivering a passionate performance that isn't afraid to reveal Anna's unsympathetic side; this is, after all, a portrait of obsessive and ultimately destructive love. 

Wright also coaxes a trio of unexpectedly terrific performances from Law, Taylor-Johnson and Macfadyen
, while Gleeson and Vikander provide the genuinely romantic heart of the story as Levin and Kitty; their delightful letter-block-based proposal scene is the sweetest love scene you'll see all year.

On top of that, the mouth-watering production design is impeccable throughout, there's a terrific score by Dario Marianelli and the film is beautifully shot, courtesy of Seamus McGarvey's sumptuous cinematography. Read full review!

Anna Karenina Review - UK's Independent
It's a movie everyone has wanted to hate, not least because Knightley-bashing has become something of a national sport. But the film is a triumph. And Knightley is tipped for an Oscar. People are fond of making fun of Keira, perhaps she is a bit too young and beautiful for comfort. How dare she be a good actress, too?

But she's not only good in this film. She's great. Which is no small thing when you realise that, when she was six, her mother bribed her into learning to read by promising to get her an acting agent. And that in her teens, she forced herself to overcome her difficulties by ploughing through a copy of Emma Thompson's screenplay for Sense and Sensibility. Her mother told her, "If Emma Thompson couldn't read, she'd make sure she'd get over it. So you have to start reading, because that's what Emma Thompson would do."
It seems somehow fitting that both Wright and Knightley have found success via an adaptation of a book which represents the highest achievement of the written word. It's great that it has taken two dyslexics – director and leading lady – to turn it into something that looks fresh, exciting and inspiring 140 years after the book first came out.
Anna Karenina: A visual feast not to be missed via UK's Huffington Post
I can't remember the last time I went to see a film in the cinema which lived up to the great cinematic experience every trailer promises. So it came as the most pleasant surprise when an 1877 novel was transformed by director Joe Wright into a visual feast so filling, I was stuffed within the first 10 minutes.

It's a spectacle that has to be seen to be believed, and that's why I don't think any review I've seen does it justice. I am sure this article probably doesn't either. All I can say, is that for me, this film hit every mark. You can tell that the team working on this has scrutinised each and every scene, set and character. It's this labour of love that has produced, in my opinion, the best love story seen on film for years. Read full review.
UPDATED 9/7/12: More AK film reviews added below...

Anna Karenina TIFF Review via A.V. Club
Anna Karenina
Director/Country/Time: Joe Wright, UK, 130 min.
Cast: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kelly Macdonald, Olivia Williams, Emily Watson
Program: Special Presentation
Headline: Can’t stop a train
Noel’s Take:  Director Joe Wright first came to cineastes’ attention a few years back with his stylish adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, which made an over-filmed novel seem unexpectedly fresh. But Wright’s been very hit-and-miss since, often letting his visual flourishes get in the way of his storytelling. Wright attempts to recapture some of that Pride & Prejudice magic with his new adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, which reunites him with his P&P/Atonement star Keira Knightley. But Wright also takes a more florid approach to the material than he ever has before (which is saying something, given Wright’s résumé). Opening on a theater stage, Wright tells the story of the adulterous Anna and her long-suffering husband (played by Jude Law) in a way that’s overtly theatrical, often letting the props look like props, and having the actors dance around each other as though they’re in a musical, while the set-dressing flies in and out. The technique should heighten the melodrama inherent in Tolstoy’s story; instead, it often makes the emotions seem more abstract. And that’s a problem, because if the audience can’t understand why Anna would throw away her marriage and her social position for what amounts to a schoolgirl crush on an army officer (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson), then it’s hard to feel the tragedy of the story deeply. That said, Tom Stoppard’s script skillfully illuminates Tolstoy’s themes, giving each of the minor characters their due so that they can play out the questions of what forgiveness means, and whether the head can overrule the heart. And though Wright’s style gets in the way at times, give the man credit: He’s really trying something here, working to push aside the usually dry approach to literary adaptation in order to make something exciting and beautiful. Sometimes the result is mere kitsch. More often, this Anna Karenina is a triumph of cinematic choreography.
Grade: B+
Film Review – Anna Karenina via Filmoria

4 stars (out of 5)
All the World’s a stage as director Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, Hanna) brings us his latest film in the form of Anna Karenina. A remake of the classic story by Leo Tolstoy which was written in 1877,  Anna Karenina follows the tragic story of Anna who desperately seeks a more fulfilling life.  Anna (Keira Knightley) is stuck in a loveless marriage, and upon trying to discover something more, she falls in to a new, and at times, disastrous lifestyle. Anna Karenina is a risky experiment from Joe Wright. Deciding to shoot the entire film in one space is something that could have easily gone awry. Nonetheless, Wright manages to create a film that is a thoroughly entertaining and magical viewing experience. It is a truly mesmerising attempt at originality that deserves to be seen.
The music chosen for Anna Karenina is enchanting and is used extremely well as a way to blend many of the scenes together. Dario Marianelli (V For Vendetta, Atonement, Jane Eyre) has been chosen perfectly as composer and it is easy to lose yourself in the beauty of the music.


Not only is Anna Karenina a feast for the eye and ears, it is a delight for the mind. You will be effortlessly drawn to the story and will stay hooked until the curtain falls.

The performances from the unquestionably strong cast are all superb. Each actor and actress has been chosen perfectly; they all act wonderfully and bring to life their characters in an entirely believable and equally as wonderful, way. Keira Knightley, who has worked with Joe Wright on two of his previous films, plays the role of Anna flawlessly. She is compelling in every scene and steals every frame as she boasts beautiful costumes and delivers her lines impeccably.

Anna Karenina is a film that has left me astounded. One of the most intriguing stories that is presented beautifully, Anna Karenina needs to be seen to be believed. It is a truly ambitious 130 minutes that grips you right from the onset until the heart-stopping ending.
 
A Stunning Karenina via Elsewhere Hollywood
You either go with the proscenium-arch grandiosity of a film like Anna Karenina or you don't (and I was just talking in the Bell Lightbox lobby with a critic who didn't care for it) but if you ask me it has all the essential ingredients of a bold-as-brass Best Picture contender -- an excitingly original approach, cliff-leaping madness, complex choreography, the balls to go classic and crazy at the same time, a wild mixture of theatricality and romantic realism, a superbly tight and expressive script by Tom Stoppard and wowser operatic acting with a special hat-tip to Keira Knightley as Anna -- a Best Actress performance if I've ever seen one.
The brazen idea behind Wright's film is that he's presenting a completely theatrical environment, and therefore subject to the rules of theatre. The film literally takes place in a 19th Century theatre with the orchestra seats removed, and yet a special kind of theatre that dissolves and opens up from time to time -- regularly, literally -- and thus allowing Wright and his players to run out or zoom out into a semi-naturalistic world. But one is mostly aware that we're watching a play that is choreographed like a musical with broad but delicious acting and some magnificent dance sequences and killer production design and break-open walls and actors sometimes freezing in their tracks and becoming tableau.

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