Thursday, December 27, 2012

Anna Karenina

Once again the fabulous Fleur Cinema & Cafe got the movies I really want to see; Anna Karenina included.  I have a very limited background when it comes to Russian literature. I once had a Russian lit professor for Women's Lit and we talked about Anna but we didn't have to read it. Masha (my professor) said she read the book twice. Once when she was 16 and it was required for one of her classes and the second time after the birth of her daughter. Two very different experiences she said.

I have attempted to read Anna Karenina a couple of times. The first time I couldn't get past all the farm-talk. I get it Levin... you're a farmer. I don't need to know the ins and outs of your day-to-day life. I never even met Anna because I couldn't get past Farmer Levin. Another time I made it to Anna but she was so annoying to me I couldn't keep reading her. I was probably 19 years old at that time. Now I'm trying again. There is a website called They will send you a section of a chapter of a free-domain book to your email at the same time everyday. I'm slowly making my way through Anna Karenina.

Needless to say, I'm not finished with it. But I saw the film anyway. I generally like Keira Knightley. Bend It Like Beckham, Pirates of the Caribbean, Pride & Prejudice, Atonement.

Pride & Prejudice and Atonement are what really pushed me to see Anna Karenina. Not just for Keira Knightley but for director Joe Wright. Those two films are beautifully shot and he seems to know how to film Keira properly. How else would she look so good in the rain? Nobody else does!! Anyway....

Anna Karenina for those that don't know is a massive novel by Leo Tolstoy. It centers around Anna, who is married with a son and she goes to visit her brother. Her brother Oblonksy (Matthew Mcfayden) is cheating on his wife, Dolly (Kelly Macdonald)  and she's thinking about leaving him. Anna is there to try and make Dolly (the wife) see reason and not leave. Under the law if Dolly files for divorce she won't see any of her five to six kids (can't remember how many she had). While Anna is there she hangs out with Dolly's sister Kitty and learns that she is in love with a man called Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). A man Anna has already met on the train when he came to meet his mother whom Anna traveled with. Then there is Levin who is in love with Kitty but she denies his proposal in the hopes of one from Vronsky.

Anna and Vronsky hit it off - - too much. He follows her around persuading her to begin an affair. And so begins the action of the story. Anna's affair becomes apparent and she stops trying to hide it. When her husband (Jude Law) finds out he refuses a divorce and now she is stuck.

Anna is a very unlikable character. I'm of the opinion if you're going to do something don't half-ass it. Don't try to make a cake and eat it to... or whatever that saying is. You want to be with Vronsky then be with Vronsky! Although the further along in the movie we got Aaron Taylor-Johnson looked more and more like Gene Wilder in  Young Frankenstein. It was a real turn-off since he wasn't anywhere near as funny.


PS: My friend leaned over and asked me when he looked so familiar. I replied "That's Kick-Ass." She said 'He's in Kick-Ass?" I'm like "No. He is Kick-Ass!" Wrap your brain around that one. Same goes for Domhnall Gleeson who plays Levin. It took me a minute but he is one Bill Weasley. Ahh. Harry Potter. My one stop shop for British actors when I can't remember where I've seen them before.

Levin here on the left. Bill Weasley on the right.


So Anna seems to not be able to make up her mind if she wants to stay married and see her son or get a divorce and run off with her lover. She debates throughout the movie. This is over the course of years. Now the movie had very little farm-talk in it.We see Levin on his farm and doing what it is he does while caring for his alcoholic brother but the driving force of the film is just the love entanglements. Maybe Anna has some internal dialog of rationalization while she's trying to figure out her life in the novel but you don't see that in the film.

Remember earlier when I said that I really like how Joe Wright directs his films? Pride & Prejudice is set up like a painting in each and every shot. It is beautiful when you take the time to notice. Atonement has a 5 1/2 minute tracking shot when Robbie (James McAvoy) hits the beach at Dunkirk. That is a steady camera movement for over five minutes!! It was simply amazing. In Anna Karenina he chose to film the story as if it were taking place on a stage. You go backstage to travel and come up on a new stage in a new place. I'm not sure if it was less prominent towards the end or if I was just so used to it that it didn't seem as shocking but I felt it was used less. It is quite jarring at the beginning. I felt like I was in a musical and someone should've broken out into song at some point. Probably because the actions on the stage were so fluid it looked like they were dancing.

I'm also not sure if that was how Joe Wright intended to film or if it was how Tom Stoppard wrote the screenplay. He also wrote Shakespeare in Love which is set primarily on a stage as well. I should look into that....

Dario Marianelli did another amazing score. In Atonement he used the keys striking the typewriter in the music. Incorporated it in so smoothly that it just enhanced the film. The same element is used in this score to foreshadow, although instead of typewriter keys it is sounds associated with the train station where Anna and Vronsky first met. Marianelli has scored a fair many of Joe Wright's pictures. They make a great team... like Spielberg and Williams................. Maybe that's a little presumptuous. But Wright and Marianelli do make a nice pair.

I did like Anna Karenina. It was a very good movie even if Anna is an annoying character. I'm looking forward to finishing the book now. Let's see I'm on part 091 out of 423. Another year and I'll be set!

1 comment:

  1. So glad to have read this post! I really want to see this movie! My brother and I are obsessed with the soundtrack! So beautiful! Thanks!