I won’t even pretend like I’ve read Tolstoy’s super-long novel. I haven’t. Russian literature isn’t something I’m particularly interested in. All I knew about Anna Karenina is that it’s about a lady named Anna who does some scandalous things with a man and it ruins her life.
And you know what guys? That’s exactly right. Apparently a married, aristocratic woman having an affair in the 1800s in Russia isn’t something that inclines people to give a cheeky grin and a wink and say “You go, girl!”
Honestly, the most important thing about this movie is that Joe Wright directed it. Now there’s a man who knows how to make a beautiful movie. This movie did some weird shit – a lot of the movie was set in a theatre. In order for people to “leave a building” and go to the “street” they would climb the stairs in the wings of the theatre. Then, the catwalk and fly system would serve as the streets. In one scene, one of the characters opens a door that’s part of a Russian city backdrop and is suddenly in a train station. In another scene, there’s a horse race and everyone is gathered in the theatre – they are the audience and the race occurs on stage.
Weird. But I did not hate it.
It seemed like Wright was making a movie/play hybrid. I mean, there was choreography throughout the movie to the point of it being something you’d see in a musical. It took a few minutes for me to adjust and grasp exactly what was happening, or actually, what wasn’t happening. These people weren’t hanging out in a theatre conducting their lives. It was a narrative technique or whatever! Makes more sense.
There was some really cool dancing at the ball in the movie (a scene highlighting a common occurrence in the movie – only a few characters moving while everyone eles remains impossibly still. Excellent effect) but one thing kept throwing me – in the dance, they’d do this bit where they kept wiggling their elbows near one another and I could not stop thinking about Magenta and Riff Raff from Rocky Horror Picture Show and their elbow sex.
The story dragged in some scenes and it was a bit long and it was depressing. But it was absolutely lovely to look at. It was kind of hard knowing from the get-go that the protagonist is doomed. You don’t need to know anything about the book to get that. Beautiful woman in Russia having an affair. How could that possibly end well?