Skip to main content

Review: All the World's a Stage (Anna Karenina)

Of all the many literary classics that have graced the silver screen, Anna Karenina is perhaps the most beloved. Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice have been made into features almost as often, but even those pictures don't have the prestige that Anna Karenina does.

If the name Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) were to come up in gossip circles, she would be spoken of highly. She is the young and attractive wife to government officer Karenin (Jude Law). While Karenin loves his wife, he is distant, their marriage is one of convenience. No embers of passion burn when they are together. Her life is not completely lacking in love though, Anna imparts that love to her son.

Yet, some wants just do not go away.

Despite the conventions of society, despite what she knows to be a bad idea, wife and mother Anna has fallen madly in love with Russian officer Vronsky (Aaron Johnson). When they meet at the grand ball, they only have eyes for each other. The romance about to transpire is obvious to everyone, including Anna's husband.

Her cuckolded husband Karenin is not unreasonable in his demand that the two be discreet, but the love that Anna and Vronsky share cannot be repressed.

There is a B story revolves that revolves around Vronsky's spurning of Kitty, who is repeatedly courted by the demure Levin (Domnhall Gleeson), chum of Anna's brother Count Oblonsky (Matthew MacFadyen). Infidelity, as it seems, is also an issue for the brother battling the same lustful wiles that are plaguing his sister. Levin has none of these faults and he spends his days contemplating the nature of life.

Tolstoy paid equal attention to both Anna and Levin in his novel, but it is easy to understand why a romantic affair would be played up.

Additionally, what separates Anna Karenina from many film adaptations of the classics is Joe Wright's decision to place the proceedings on a theatrical stage. Wright starts off like every other version of the film in Oblonsky's study, but this study is located in the arch of a stagnant theatre. The director never misses an opportunity to flaunt his stylistic choice, yet in doing so he brings more attention to himself than the story.

The staged aspect of Anna Karenina initially has promise, but it removes all of the emotional bonds that Keira Knightley's performance depends on. The strength of Tolstoy's play is the resonance of Anna's raw emotion. She is perhaps, literature's most pitiable figure.

It's easy to get at what Wright's motioning toward: life for the wealthy in 19th Century Russia was a show, but it's too meta for its own good. That the film succeeds at all is due entirely to the tenacity of Keira Knightley.

**1/2 out of ****

Popular posts from this blog

Herman Melville and Office Space

Just from gleaning the surface of Office Space one would assume that there isn't anything simmering below the surface except for a raunchy work-comedy, but they would be wrong.
After the harsh critical reception of his greatest work Moby Dick Melville wrote a collection of short stories called Bartleby and Benito Cereno perhaps the greatest slam at the time against industrial America. Bartleby is the story of a Wall Street copyist who has his three employees proof-read and copy law forms. Shortly into the story Bartleby starts responding to work commands with, "I would prefer not to." Frustrated by his employee's subordination the Narrator tries to have him fired but Bartleby refuses to leave the office. The Narrator comes back the following morning to find Bartleby living inside his office. Bartleby becomes increasingly less apt to perform basic functions as eating after he is jailed for trespassing and dies in a jail cell. What at once starts out as a comedy has …

Paprika vs. Inception

Months before Inception hit the theaters forums were alive with rumors that Christopher Nolan either accidentally or intentionally stole some details from another film, the Japanese anime Paprika. The biggest point of comparison for some bloggers and forum runners was the fact that both of the films featured a device that allowed a person, or people, to travel into another’s dreams and delve into their subconscious.
Minor points of comparison include scenes in Paprika where the character Paprika breaks through a mirrored wall by holding her hand to it, as well as a scene where a police detective falls his way down a hallway. Claims have been made that Inception abounds with imagery similar to or exactly like the anime movie, but with the recent release of the film on DVD and Blu-Ray, and with Paprika available for several years now, an examination of the two plots can be made more fully.
Let us begin with the primary claim—Inception stole the idea of a dream machine from Paprika. It …

Blumhouse's Truth or Dare Giveaway

We’re not playing the game, it’s playing us! A harmless game of "Truth or Dare" among friends turns deadly when someone--or something--begins to punish those who tell a lie--or refuse the dare. Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, opening in theaters Friday the 13th! To celebrate the release of this terrifying new film we have a Truth or Dare giveaway for readers. Play the app below with a friend and take the Truth or Dare challenge to see who survives. To enter, tag a friend you'd bring along to the film to @wordsbycbiggs on Twitter and use the #TruthOrDareMovie hashtag. One lucky winner will receive a prize pack, which includes: 1 - Limited Edition Truth or Dare Card Game: This limited edition Truth or Dare Game is only available via this promotion and has a run of 200 pieces worldwide. It has a card deck featuring dares and the creepy crawly items you need to satisfy the dares in the deck. Test your resolve… The truth will set you free! 1 - Truth or Dare Official Promo Tank - O…