You know when you are describing something, and you're not sure you want to call it strictly bad or good, and so instead you select the slightly prickly "interesting" as the best word to convey how you feel about said something.? Well today, after watching Joe Wright's adaption of Anna Karenina, I choose "interesting" as the way to describe it. In this Anna Karenina, Keira Knightly, playing a paranoid, much less sympathetic version of her character in The Duchess, is in a loveless (on her part) marriage and seeks the excitement and attention of an affair with a young military man. The problem of course, is that the affair ruins lives and hurts people, not that Anna really notices. She comes across rather horribly.
Depicted in a movie within a theater for large portions, Anna Karenina comes across as all glossy gimmicks and glittery pageantry with few moments of clarity and character and relationship development. As a viewer, you are given very shallow portraits of scenes. Sure I could see that Anna's life was like a stage and the idea of her always being watched was a metaphor, but all in all the gimmick detracted and distracted from the human side of the story.
The true redeeming portion of the film follows a young land owner (Domhnall Gleeson) who discovers the true meaning and nature of love. Many of his scenes are free in nature and much more soulful. Joe Wright, who once directed Pride and Prejudice, is capable of so much beauty and soul. Why then, did he create something with about as much depth as a fluffed pastry? Instead of beauty and soul we got pretty and showy.
I wouldn't say I disliked the film altogether. Instead, I enjoyed it the way one might enjoy a small pastry. It was pretty and partly good (all due to Domhnall Gleeson, who you may know as Bill from Harry Potter), but it just didn't fill me up. I did enjoy the bit of Matthew Macfadyen playing Anna's brother, if only because it was such a departure from his role as Mr. Darcy.