Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Anna Karenina

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.

26 comments:

Kim (A Very Sweet Blog) said...

Awww dammit! I was looking forward to seeing it and don't mention all the HYPE. hahaha That's disappointing. I can truly believe the "no chemistry" part jen, because I can see it in the pics. This saddens me. Oh well! Excellent review and I'll see it for the costumes. HAHAHA
http://www.averysweetblog.com/

Chloe Moon said...

I kinda want to see this in a matinee now. Maybe Kiera is too type casted in period pieces that she lost the drive and passion? She was great in seeking a friend for the end of the world, full of life and passion and you feel like you know what's going on with her. ALSO she could possibly have just read the script and never read the book so she didn't realize how powerful Anna needed to be...Jude law is a great emotional actor, I'm not surprised he wowed! Thanks for the honest review! =)

Ergo - Blog

French Girl in Seattle said...

The preview I watched a few weeks ago showed the lack of chemistry between K. and that boy/man. No surprise there. Jude Law stole the show? No surprise there either. I am a little disappointed that K. was not better. She is one fine actress, this young English gal. Sorry, Jenny. I understand you expected more, and the show was a bit of a let down. I suppose I might go if only to look at the costumes, sets, and those Chanel pear necklaces K. is supposed to wear in the movie :-) Signed: Veronique (shallow French Girl-- from Seattle)

ZxM Style-Squared said...

Love the novel and the movie with Soffie Marseau !;)

Andrés Corella said...

That´s what happens when the cast is not right...it can actually bring a movie down no matter how good it looks or the plot is...I will see it anyway when it premieres here (possibly next year cause everything here arrives late) and before that I´ll try to get the book.

hugs
Andru
The Black Label
http://theblacklabelblog.blogspot.com

Oh to Be a Muse said...

I know 2 friends who are definitely going to see this...although I believe they dislike Keira...so maybe they won't see it.

It's weird because I like Aaron Johnson (did you see Kick Ass?), so it's sad there was no chemistry. Maybe I will watch this On Demand.

Miss Laia said...

I haven't read the book but I have always had a soft spot for this kind of movies so I would probably go to see it on the big screen and read the book after that and probably think or the book is always so much better.
Thanks for the recomendation Jenny, great review.
xxx

The Grande Dame said...

It's always disappointing when a film doesn't live up to its literary origins (Woman or Lady in Black was very creepy but the Hollywood ending killed it). It's also quite rare when it does meet expectations. I haven't read this book but the screen shots you've provided do look so beautiful, I will probably see this on the big screen as you've recommended.

Couture Carrie said...

It's one of my favorite books, too, darling!
What a bummer that the movie didn't live up to expectations...

xoxox,
CC

Jade said...

Great review, I've been wanting to see the film for ages even though I've not read the book and I barely knew the plot. I was probably only drawn in because of the cast (surprised Aaron Johnson would be in a period drama but good for him I guess) and like you said, it does look gorgeous on the trailer. Despite what you've said, I bet I'll end up enjoying it for what it is anyway, since I've got no background knowledge on the story!
Thanks for your ridiculously flattering comment, by the way!! x

Sarah said...

I completely agree...saw it in September when it came out over here and although it was breathtaking to look at there was no real heart to the story. Jude Law was by far the best actor.
x

Josie said...

It looks so lovely -- I think I have to see it just for the aesthetics.
xo Josie
www.winksmilestyle.com

EMA said...

I have been dying to read it, and I even have a copy at my house but have not had the time to do so yet, so as soon as finals are over, I will get on that! I love these scenes!

http://www.themirroronthewall.com/

Anonymous said...

Strange take, because I thought there was plenty of chemistry - actually more than Sean Bean and Sophie Marceau I thought. I absolutely loved the movie, and so did my friends. No disappointment here! (and we all read the book by the way). We all loved Aaron as Vronsky too. He was breathtaking. He was different, but that was the point. We also loved the theatrical approach as well. Very unique.

Sherin said...

I don't think films ever live up to books! I might watch this when it eventually comes to TV but that's about it. I'm not a massive Keira fan anyway.

Matea Saric said...

Oh no, I was afraid this might happen with the movie, from the moment I saw its trailer :( But I'm still very anxious to see it, if nothing, to enjoy the art of photography :))

Fingers crossed for Les Miserables to be better :)))

http://smilesnapsparkle.blogspot.com

Ms. Dainty Doll said...

What a shame, it sounded great and looked great too, maybe give it a miss or watch it when I'm willing to watch anything out of boredom!! Fantastic review :)

Rachel @ The Redhead Fashionista said...

I'm probably crazy, but can you believe I've never even read Anna Karenina? *adds to mental list of books to read*
It's such a bummer to hear that this film wasn't the best since it could have had the potential to be something amazing. But if there's a lack of chemistry on-screen, it's all downhill from there.

Tights Lover said...

Judging by the pictures, it does appear to be a impressive film, visually. And KK does look amazing!

I haven't seen the original, but I can imagine how amazing Garbo must've been in this role. That's the problem with remakes, there's usually too much to live up to...and I can imagine it gets even worse when you already read the book.

Maybe they need to only remake bad movies. Like take a second chance to get it right...hahaha.

Anh Nguyen said...

great post and review. i will need to see this when it comes out to dvd for the costumes :)

Anonymous said...

WHY DON'T YOU ALL SEE IT FOR YOURSELVES AND FORM YOUR OWN OPINION, instead of taking the opinion of the writer at face value? I have spoken to several people who all loved it. Not everyone has to agree with each other.

David Macaulay said...

I have read Anna a long time ago, was actually more into War and Peace (is that a more or less pretentious thing to say?) - probably it's more pretentious to say 'I'm into Dostoyevsky' which I can't really say having only read a couple of chapters of Crime and Punishment before getting bored. Anyhow Keira was great in Dr Zhivago (we have had this conversation) partly because it was one of her first appearances and she was novel and new etc.

JenniH said...

I was afraid something like this would be the result in the film. I must admit I have never finished reading Anna Karenina - I have it on my bookshelf and have tried many times but it is so heavy and hard to read! I am afraid of what would happen if I would go and see this film first and then try to read the book afterwards. Perhaps not a good idea. PLUS I don't know how to react to the fact that they speak English - they are Russian people, the characters, anyway.

Jane Barry said...

I so agree on all counts, very disappointing aside from the visual prettiness, such a shame...

Anonymous said...

Please watch Vivien Leigh's portrayal.... And I love your blog!

Anonymous said...

youre right about everything except the chemistry part, they had amazing chemistry.