CINEMATIC Review

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Anna Karenina

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on December 10, 2012 at 6:50 PM



ANNA KARENINA   ***

Joe Wright

2012



IDEA:  Anna, the well-to-do wife of a senior statesman in 19th century Russia, finds her life in a tailspin after she engages in an affair with a dashing military officer.


BLURB:  How do you take one of literature’s most famous, oft-adapted works and turn it into a movie that not only stands on its own, but feels truly new? If you’re Joe Wright, you engineer one of the most elaborately, extravagantly overstuffed visual indulgences ever put on film, then stage it all in the protean façade of an actual theatre. Sets will transform and repurpose themselves mid-scene, walls will suddenly slide open to reveal impossible new spaces that destroy spatial conceptions, and actors, studded in exorbitant finery, will pose and contort like mannequins in the world’s most astonishing tableau vivant. The story, which as it happens is almost entirely dependent on the film’s theatrical conceit, is still here of course – the icy artifice we feel from the characters and their experiences is exactly what helps to convey their all-appearances lifestyle. Though inherent, this device is admittedly distancing. If our hearts don’t necessarily connect, then, we can be sure our eyes will; Seamus McGarvey’s glowing, dream-haze camerawork is a masterpiece of cinematography, turning this often overwhelming exercise into, if nothing else, a catalogue of style. In a visual medium, sometimes that's more than enough.

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