Director Joe Wright was behind beautiful cinematographic works, such as “The Destiny of a Nation”, “The Soloist”, “Pride and Prejudice” and “Desire and Atonement”, the last two being starred by Kiera Knightley, also his collaborator. in “Anna Karenina”, released in 2012.
Based on the homonymous work of the Russian writer, one of the greatest of all time, Leo Tolstoy, Wright’s film is carefully painted on the canvas, with an aesthetic concern and a desire to experiment with new textures. From there, he decided to film “Anna Karenina” inside a theater built in Shepperton, a few minutes away from London.
The plot of the story is known. It is 1874, still during imperialist Russia, when Anna Karenina travels to Moscow to help her brother, Prince Oblonsky, save his marriage after being unfaithful. Anna is married to Count Alexei Karenin, but the routine of almost ten years of marriage has cooled the relationship. When she meets Count Vronsky, an army officer who is betrothed to Anna’s sister-in-law’s sister, they are immediately attracted to each other. As they meet, it becomes difficult to control the overwhelming desire that seizes them, but the slide will be the ruin of everyone, especially Anna, in a conservative and macho society.
While scene transitions occur with exchanges of theatrical backdrops, the characters move in a choreographed ballet. There is a certain purposeful exaggeration in the performances, especially in the dramatic scenes, which refers precisely to this spectacularization of aristocratic life. They are the center of society in a piece of life accompanied by everyone. Plays of light tell us the moments of tension and drama. The pompous clothes reinforce the exaggeration and the folk songs want to launch us from our sofas straight to Tolstoy’s Russia.
In a beautiful scene at the ball where Anna and Vronsky fall in love, the scenery is frozen, all the guests don’t move, but as the couple dances past them, it’s as if the world comes to life and starts moving again in a metaphor for passion, which makes the world a more alive and colorful place. But at the end of the dance, Anna looks in the mirror and sees the reflection of a train running over her, a glimpse of the tragedies that this new passion could promote in her future.
Although it revolves around Anna and Vronsky’s forbidden romance, there are several arcs within the narrative and many characters, which is common in Russian literature. If you haven’t read the book, you need to follow each dialogue so you don’t get lost along the way.
It’s interesting to look at the bold and innovative aspect of Wright’s vision, a man already used to producing excellent epic novels. But in “Anna Karenina” he decides to deviate from the predictable paths and venture down unknown routes, exploring a more artistic and creative vision. And it is necessary to highlight how much this film is a delight for the eyes.
The cast has many familiar names. In addition to Knightley, there are also Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Jude Law, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Emerald Fennell, Emily Watson, Bill Skarsgård and Cara Delevingne.
Film: Anna Karenina
Direction: Joe Wright