I’ve just got back from the cinema where I saw the movie, Anna Karenina starring Keira Knightly and Jude Law. It is based on the Tolstoy novel of the same name and is set in the late 19th century Russia. Before I start, I have to say, I have never read the novel. I have always meant to read it but never got around to it. Before starting to write this, I checked on Wikipedia for a brief outline. (is there anything you can’t find on Wikipedia?) I’ll get to the synopsis soon.
So, getting back to the theatre, my friend Cecile and I arrived about 10 minutes late for the movie due to the hotel being packed when we wanted to have dinner first. Not getting to the hotel earlier was our first mistake. Still, we were sure we’d catch up on the plot fairly quickly. After about 5 minutes, Cecile said, “I’m already confused”. I assured her we’d be able to pick it up pretty quickly. That was my second mistake. I sat there quite bemused the whole 2 and a bit hours trying to make sense of this movie.
Having read the synopsis just now on Wikipedia, there seemed to be whole chunks missing from the story which is probably why some characters such as Levin and Kitty seemed so superfluous to the movie. They just didn’t make sense. Actually.. Who am I kidding? NOTHING made sense. From the horse races that were staged in the magnificent theatre….. to the paddocks growing in the same theatre…… to the dancers who stopped mid dance while the main characters danced past them…. to the painted backdrops of Russian building that were obviously backdrops…. oh I could go on forever. And don’t get me started on the weird dance they were doing.. Even Dancing With The Stars wouldn’t touch this one. It was just plain bizarre.
The cinematography was amazing.. beautifully shot.. beautifully staged. The costuming was stunning. So romantic and perfect. The whole mood of the movie was huge, and being such a classic novel, this movie had all the potential of being another Dr Zhivago. Now while I didn’t like the movie Dr. Zhivago, even I can say that movie had a beauty all of it’s own. Anna Karenina should have not just equaled it but clearly surpassed it with the advantage of modern day film making techniques and budget. Unfortunately, the need to turn it into some dream sequence fantasy dashed any hopes of letting this movie even come close to being a classic. It was completely bizarre. This movie made the Robin Williams movie “What dreams may come” look like it was a National Geographic documentary. I cannot understand why they felt the need to take a classic story and try to make it into an abstract concept.
Now to the stars of the movie….. Keira Knightly was Keira Knightly.. the same character she plays in every movie. Easy to look at but very 2 dimensional. Her character is as flat as her bustline in this movie. She just never seems to really expand her characters as I expect her to. Jude Law is as brilliant as he always is. It took me a minute to realise it was him as he looked so different from his divine self but he played the role of her husband Alexei with a gentle restraint which I think clearly defined the character. The other roles were reasonably well played if a bit overacted in many instances. I can’t really blame the actors in this movie for the lack of characterisation… it has to be the responsibility of the director who clearly traded character analysis for arty farty dream sequences that contributed nothing of any importance to the storyline.
I can’t say I hated the movie but it isn’t a movie I would ever sit through again, not even to pick holes in it. I walked away saying I wouldn’t ever bother reading the novel however after looking at the synopsis I may take the time to see how well Tolstoy wrote the characters who were all but written out of the film. I know they can’t be as detailed in film making as in literature but i don’t see why the characters couldn’t have been expanded on more than they were.
On the upside, we saw this at the Mount Vic Flicks. If you’ve never been to this wonderful little establishment, it’s a must do. It’s like stepping back in time. It is in Mount Victoria which is the last town of the Blue Mountains before you start heading back down the other side on your way to Lithgow and Bathurst. It is a beautiful quaint little town with lots of old buildings and a beautiful park. Unfortunately, Mt Vic as it’s known to the locals, has very little in the way of shops anymore which is a real pity. This is such a pretty little town and should be made so much more of. One of it’s main attractions is the Mount Vic Flicks. Set in a little public hall, it has old seats, a glorious old stage and an old fashioned feel. My first experience here was to see Singing in the Rain with Gene Kelly. They play a lot of arthouse, foreign language and old movies here and it is a fantastic experience. Teas and coffees are served in mugs, mixed lollies are bagged by them and it is like going to the movies was as a kid. If you are up here visiting at any time, set a few hours aside to watch a movie at this time machine.. You’ll love it.
All in all, I had an enjoyable night. I always do when I go anywhere with Cecile. We laughed all the way home at our imagined reaction others would have at this movie. The words “What the ?????” were repeated often. I’m glad I’ve seen the movie.. I probably will now read the book, thanks to Wikipedia… but I would never bother to sit through it again.. My time is too precious to lose another 2 hours of it. The cinematography made it almost worthwhile but it’s a shame that the character and storyline development weren’t stronger. Still, watch it and make up your own mind. You may like it more than I did.
Happy Viewing.. Livvy