Words by Naomi Jeffreys
Keira Knightley stars as the complicated Anna Karenina, a woman trapped in the theatre of aristocratic social life and the love which she feels for Count Vronsky.
Keira Knightley made her name in films such as Bend it Like Beckham, Pirates of the Caribbean and Love Actually. But in this film she exudes confidence and ease in front of the camera. Joe Wright, the Director adores her and uses many close ups. This film will be her defining role. She carries the film with such ease, such grace and with such passion.
As for the film itself Joe Wright, Auteur, clearly makes his mark in every second of the film. The cinematography; many tracking shots as the characters go about their business in the Theatre which they call their home as the stage changes around them. The music, by Dario Marianelli becomes another character, the ‘Anna’ theme used so frequently, one almost forget its even there. The production values are lavish and Joe Wright is clearly showing off, but in every scene, there is a cinematic surprise.
In an all star cast which brings together the finest stage, screen and period actors including; Jude Law, Ruth Wilson, Emily Watson, Matthew MacFadyen and many other British actors. Wright choreographs these actors within an inch of their life and relies on a steady rhythm (similar to the opening of his other film, Atonement) the characters are confined within the theatre, within the social life of their world. Sometimes it feels claustrophobic and only a couple of characters venture out in to the harshness of real life.
However, the film feels overly long and at times the pace slows, making the often wordy action feel boring and at times lifeless. Some of the characters feel like caricatures (Ruth Wilson’s Princess Betsy) and her cronies who are simply posh shadows of her.
Overall, the film is a visual wonder and Joe Wright screaming from the rooftops just exactly what he can do given a budget of $30 billion.
Anna Karenina is out in UK cinemas from today.