“Anna Karenina” (2012) Review
One thing becomes quickly apparent when viewing Anna Karenina – the visual presentation is absolutely stunning. Still, visuals alone cannot make a movie (see Avatar or Life of Pi) and Anna Karenina succeeds on multiple levels to really showcase how to put together a great film. Sure, the basis of the film may be a love triangle story, but I can assure you that this is not just a romance film – it is much more.
As I had mentioned, the story of Anna Karenina focuses on a love triangle between the title character, her husband, and a military officer. This is contrasted against the story of a young man who has fallen for a young woman. For a plot centered on romance, there is a fair amount of depth to the plot, largely due to the excellent writing and symbolism used. This raises the plot to a level well above a romance story and into a great character-driven film. As the characters begin to interact in more tense situations (aided by some excellent acting from the talented Keira Knightly, always excellent Jude Law, and a talented cast of young actors/actresses), the viewer is drawn further into the film’s web, connecting you closer with the story and keeping you firmly engaged. Lastly, while the film follows a fairly straightforward path, there are some nice twists and turns (including some nice surprises) that keep the film from feeling clichéd.
Plot aside, Anna Karenina deserves a ton of praise for its visuals. Every piece that goes into the visual presentation has been painstakingly detailed, resulting in an incredible show for the viewer. The set design is stunning, with the film taking place in a theater setting and sets shifting constantly as the characters walk from area of the stage/rafters to another. The moving set design was a great choice, and one the use of the stage for the presentation ties in perfectly with one of the film’s main themes. In addition, the costume work and cinematography are colorful and brighten the stage, while some intricately choreographed scenes and character movements lend another layer to the film’s already great visuals. I could go on further, but I will stop now and just say that this is a masterfully constructed presentation that perfectly fits the story and themes, and goes a long way to enhance the film as a whole.
The presentation is already being a highlight due to the visuals, but that should not overshadow the soundtrack for the film. The musical pieces for the film are very well composed and stand out as another key piece of the film’s high points. Each scene is even further enhanced by this wonderful, classically rooted score. This soundtrack when put together with the aforementioned visual design even further cements Anna Karenina as such a perfectly presented film.
When compared against some of the best films of last year, Anna Karenina can certainly hold its own. It may not quite reach the heights of those other top films due to some scenes moving too quick with complexly constructed dialogue, and the somewhat slowly developing plot, but the overall presentation is about as good as it gets. I am by no means a romance film fan, but I very much enjoyed Anna Karenina due to its execution. I can easily recommend it to most movie fans, especially those who are fans of theater presentations (who should enjoy the set design and presentation even more). Give Anna Karenina a chance, and it will prove itself as much more than what some might quickly brush off as just a fancy romance film.
Final Score: 8.6/10