Anna Karenina [Blu-Ray]
Joe Wright's adaptation of Leo Tolstoy beloved classic is extremely stylised, uniquely presented and a gorgeously sumptuous feast for the eyes and ears. However, the directing, although unique, was inconsistent, occasionally bordering on simplicity, with style over substance; the storytelling deceptively simple with all of Anna's complexities and Tolstoy's social/political commentary lost. Wright again brought out the best of Keira Knightley, and similarly Jude Law also stood out, but young Aaron Johnson (now Taylor-Johnson) was badly miscast.
Wright chose a very unique way to present this story, and although it took a few minutes to get use to it, it was nonetheless arresting and visually spectacular. However, Wright noticeably got lazy and this technique became inconsistent, and when it did not serve the narrative was abandoned without forewarning.
Luckily for us, he had Seamus McGreary as his cinematographer. When the scenes were set indoors, McGreary shots ranged were heartbreakingly tender to sumptuously spectacular. However, when we move outdoors, the wide-angled lens captured the country in all its raw natural beauty. The balance of lights and shadows were sublime throughout.
Then we had Dario Marianelli's score which like his award-winning score for Atonement echoed the era of which the show was set in. With Russian strings and folk themes weaved within the emotional tapestry of Anna's heart.
The last production praise goes to costume designer Jacqueline Durran who deservedly won the Academy Award that year. Her costumes were all simply astounding. The details for all the dresses and head gears. Every single piece of clothing that Knightley wore was a work of art. Although none reached the status as that infamous green dress from Atonement (one barebacked moment came close!). Based on that year's nomination, only Eiko Ishioka's equally sumptuous work on Julia Robert's disastrous Mirror, Mirror was her closest rival, but Anna Karenina could likely had won because of sheer quantity.
The screenplay by Tom Stoppard was oversimplified both in terms of plot, characterisations and dialogue. Tolstoy's prose - although translated - was much more piercing than what the actors were asked to say.
Knightley gave a good performance. Not her best but she carried the film ably on her shoulders and Wright definitely knew how to get the best out of her. However, she was betrayed by the lack of substance and depth a character like Anna should have.
Law was surprisingly mesmerising. He had a refined, restrained dignity that was magnetic.
Unfortunately Johnson was at the other of the spectrum. Way otherside. He is too young and lacked the skill to portray a deceptively simple character like Count Vronsky- who is actually not as simple as he appeared in the movie. His youth disallowed the audience to engage with him and his love affair with Anna. And this was further compounded by the absolutely frigid chemistry between him and Knightley.
A visual and aural feast of a movie that lacked a heart and soul.