Ben Oliver

Banner image for Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina

You can’t ask Why about love!
10 March 2015

Joe Wright directs his vision of the Russian classic, with Keira Knightley leading a big cast.

Anna Karenina touts a unique concept, being set largely in an old theatre. The opening set pieces are a wonder; everything is choreographed with pin point precision, the set flies in and out of the frame and changes before our eyes. One can’t help but be dazzled. It’s reminiscent of Wes Anderson but crossed with Doctor Zhivago.

The ballroom scene is a sight to behold. It’s over the top, creative and beautiful. It’s a surreal moment yet the look and feel of the film gives it a warmth and tangibility.

However, even the most ardent fan of style over substance will begin to lose interest in the film. The idea that hooks us in actually winds up killing the final two thirds. Anna Karenina is unfortunately a bit dull.

Knightley is endearing as Karenina, the Stoppard script is witty and the soundtrack is effective as well as memorable. It’s a shame then that Wright’s insistence on all things visual ultimately distracts from the good things about the film.

Occasional flashes of brilliance don’t save Anna from her fate.