Aurélie offering a normal critique of a common spectator
The theater review had it under “love love” and “Kleenex” sections. Clearly they forgot to mention the “smart head” side of this movie. The extreme complexity of Tolstoï’s master piece is the keystone of this adaptation (in its most litteral meaning) by Joe Wright. The latter does not just go through the tragic story of Anna Karenina following the events, the sets and the timeline. He depicts an impressionistic painting made of human emotions like colors fixed on a canvas which will eventually present you with the full image of this drama. The great changing, deep, superficial or alienating human emotions, that’s the only thread the director seemed to have agreed to obey to.
Anna Karenina, wife of a very influent Russian man, meets a young count Vronsky while visiting her brother whose infidelities is nearly costing him his marriage. They fall in love in no time, soon becoming prisoners of a consuming and devastating passion against all social conventions, all natural inclinations which society forbid. It’s the consequent hysteria of collectively getting in the way of happiness.
The casting proves once more that the Queen’s cinema has nothing to be ashamed of in the face of a Hollywood dominated world. The actors, taken from the great pool of the BBC and the Working Title company, demonstrate again (as if necessary) their grace and delicacy in a production where every shot is an orchestrated dance, of which each and everyone must know every step not to break the rhythm of an entire scene.
To all of you who feared just another adaptation or a copy of what Joe Wright’s already done, you may relax. Going Baz Lurhmannish, Mr. Wright knows how to be faithful to his style and make it different each time. Deliberately choosing to shoot 90% of the film in the main structure of a theater and counting on his personal skill to make unique long and fluid scenes without a single change of frame, Joe Wright has decided to show the whole physical architecture of the place, from floor to ceiling, but you won’t go behind the scene with the characters once they left the stage. Just like in a real theater. Russian dances, mythological esthetics, grandiloquent literature omens, transformative sets moving along with the characters choregraphies, surrealist rooms as opposed to real life boring and practical spaces, symbolism shadowing physical logic, fleeing transitions. You have no time to think about what’s happening, you just have to deal with it as if you would be one of the characters. Mr Wright has created a recipe for an original work.
Don’t go and try to find the traditional landmarks of a movie, Joe Wright blur them all with mirror games and optical illusions. A success!