This might come as a surprise to you, but one of my favorite novels is Anna Karenina.
I don't really broadcast this fact because it seems so cliché and pretentious.
But, it's a book that really did resonate with me and made an impression in my life. Plus, I was one of the few who read it for pleasure, rather than being forced to in school. And that always makes a difference. So, obviously, I was counting down the days until the film came out.
Unfortunately, I had high expectations. After all, my heart was stolen by Greta Garbo in the 1935 version. But that film only told a sliver of the actual story. I was hoping the Keira Knightley version would be all that, and more.
Well, let's start out with the positives.
The film is breathtakingly gorgeous. I wouldn't even call it a film. I would call it a work of art. The costumes are dazzling. The production design is spectacular. It flows like an enchanted ballet, rather than a movie. It is set on a single soundstage, rather than actual outdoor locations. It's one of the most unique films I've ever seen in that respect. Very mesmerizing to watch.
But, that's where the magic ends.
The film lacked the one quality that would have made it perfect: passion.
Anna Karenina is one of the greatest love stories of all time. And yet, there was absolutely NO chemistry between Keira Knightley as Anna and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who played her young lover, Count Vronsky. Their romance was totally unbelievable to me.
I don't totally blame Keira. She looks divine in the film (although a little young and less curvy than I imagined). But I think Count Vronsky was terribly miscast. I personally didn't find Aaron handsome or charming in this role.
In fact, the only actor who I really appreciated in the film was Jude Law, who plays Anna's reserved and heartbreakingly forgiving husband. His portrayal of an aloof, yet humbled political figure, was actually very touching.
While I thought Keira did an okay acting job in the film, I wasn't blown away. I suppose trying to live up to Garbo was too much to ask, but unfortunately that's what ultimately happens when you take on a role this huge. She just didn't compare. Not by a long shot.
But her beauty lit up the screen, which makes her lack of charisma slightly forgiving.
Overall, I thought the movie was very lovely and ethereal, but disappointing for an avid fan of the book.
If you have money to burn, I would suggest seeing it on the big-screen because it's very beautiful to watch.
But don't expect anything more.