Review Roundup: Keira Knightley Stars in ANNA KARENINA
Anna KarenINA, which opened in limited release on November 16th, is acclaimed director Joe Wright's bold, theatrical new vision of the epic story of love, stirringly adapted from Leo Tolstoy's great novel by Academy Award winner Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love). The film marks the third collaboration of the director with Academy Award-nominated actress Keira Knightley and Academy Award-nominated producers Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, and Paul Webster, following their award-winning box office successes Pride & Prejudice and Atonement.
The timeless story explores the capacity for love that surges through the human heart, while illuminating the lavish society that was imperial Russia in 1874.
Let's see what the critics had to say:
Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times: The director's interpretation has a feeling of something to be studied, appreciated, but it makes for a movie that is difficult to enjoy. Rather than being swept up in all the intrigues, you can never forget that this is a "work" of art, or the labor involved in every single scene. In the end "Anna Karenina" lets you down - visually stunning, emotionally overwrought, beautifully acted, but not quite right.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: It could have weighed a ton. That can happen when you film an 1877 classic by Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy. But thanks to director Joe Wright, Anna Karenina lifts off into the wild blue of his imagination. The surging romantic tragedy of a woman who dies for love is still there in Tom Stoppard's screenplay.
A.O. Scott, New York Times: Mr. Wright's "Anna Karenina" is different. It is risky and ambitious enough to count as an act of artistic hubris, and confident enough to triumph on its own slightly - wonderfully - crazy terms. Pious Tolstoyans may knit their brows about the stylistic liberties Mr. Wright and the screenwriter, Tom Stoppard, have taken, but surely Tolstoy can withstand (and may indeed benefit from) their playful, passionate rendering of his masterpiece.
Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: ...in making the radical artistic choice to tell the story as if it were being enacted by players on a stage, Wright falls passionately in love with his own fanciful artifices. The director, who is prone to static filmmaking disguised as 'opulent' and loyal to his reedy, perpetually high-strung leading lady Knightley, has made an Anna Karenina that is excessively delighted with stagecraft and symbolism. (You see, everyone behaved as if on stage in Russian cosmopolitan society!) Stoppard - himself a master of puzzle-like construction in fine plays including Arcadia - supplies an excellently clean, delicately balanced script.
Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter: The weight of its intellectual distancing device presses much of the life and feeling out of Joe Wright's and Tom Stoppard's adventurous adaptation of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. Dazzlingly designed and staged in a theatrical setting so as to suggest that the characters are enacting assigned roles in life, this tight and pacy telling of a 900 page-plus novel touches a number of its important bases but lacks emotional depth, moral resonance and the simple ability to allow its rich characters to experience and drink deeply of life.
Tim Robey, The Telegraph: Keira Knightley's Anna... is a headstrong, inescapably actressy creation, full of fussy vitality and verve. It's clear that she thrives under Wright, and the emotional demands of this role bring out an intriguing combination of masculine certainty and bitter regret. If she never disappears entirely under the character's skin, that's more the fault of Wright's determinedly self-conscious choreography, which places such a stress on red-curtain artifice that it often threatens to upstage Tolstoy entirely.