directed by Joe Wright (2012)
Anna Karenina is a sexy movie. Not necessarily for the soft close up nude romping (though it answers a few questions about how Aaron Taylor-Johnson was able to woo and bed a much older woman in real life) but rather, it’s sexy for us that get hot and bothered over exquisite jewelry, lavish ball gowns, and lush set design.
Is it style over substance? Perhaps – but that’s perfectly alright with me.
The literal staging (the film is shot moving in and out of transforming set pieces and stages) is almost distracting at first but undeniably beautiful. Fields of white flowers, ornate walls that had me buzzing with lofty ideas for a new house, diamond necklaces to drool over, and one particularly breathtaking chartreuse gown were backdrop to lots of pursing lips (a Kiera Knightly signature), rugged handsomeness, a couple pairs of piercing eyes care of Taylor-Johnson and Jude Law.. even the supporting cast, an impressive list of recognizable British beauties and dashing men, were more like living props with a few lines of dialogue to move the plot along. The lovely Cara Delevingne doesn’t have much more to do than titter at a distance.
There is emotion to be found, mostly and surprisingly in form of the stiff and nearly autistic suffering husband Jude Law. While Taylor-Johnson was quite convincing in his obsession, Knightly almost becomes too shrill to elicit sympathy as she careens out of control. The high schooler in me, who surely would have loved this, wanted to identify with a woman so committed to passionate, romantic and scandalous love, not get annoyed with her.
For a story so steeped in drama, it didn’t exactly move me, but I will be dreaming of tulle, gems, wainscotting and satin for weeks.