November 28, 2012

After Karenina: Amy's Take

When this movie concluded, I wanted to walk back to the projection booth and re-start the whole thing. I could have easily spent another two hours and ten minutes watching this elegant masterpiece all over again. Confession: For about the first 15 minutes of the movie, I kept thinking to myself, "I hate this." The uber-stylized rendition made it initially hard to immerse myself in a story I know practically like the back of my hand. Then suddenly, a magic switch flipped in my head and I was thoroughly bowled over. Director Joe Wright is kind of a genius, and this movie — the imagery, the painstaking attention to detail, the perfect use of symbolism — proved as much. Keira Knightley as Anna was enthralling and ironically her onetime "lover" Matthew MacFadyen (Pride & Prejudice) plays her slightly buffoonish brother, Oblonsky, which was a very surreal change-up. My only quibbles with the movie come with the two men in Anna's life. I know I'm very likely to be in the minority on this, but Aaron Taylor as Vronsky was just wrong, wrong, wrong. Casting him for this role was an insult to dashing men the world over, and as such, I found it very hard to understand why Anna was throwing away everything for this cheezy-looking-and-acting Lothario. In that sense, I guess I identified with Karenin, who clearly felt the same way. Speaking of, Jude Law didn't sit quite right with me as Anna's kind-but-cold husband, Karenin. (He didn't seem distant or problematic enough to make the scandalous affair believable, but that's just me.) Levin and Kitty = ADORABLE. Their love story is always feel-good, and this case proved no exception. I wish I'd connected more with the main love story, but for the sheer innovation and clever conceit of staging the entire production in an old theater, this film is a must-see. (Incidentally, here's an interesting interview in the L.A. Times with Joe Wright explaining his interesting rationale for doing so.)

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