Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Anna Karenina

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for some sexuality and violence
Profanity:Some mld language
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references and situations
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, smoking, drug use
Violence/Scariness:Some violence including a horse that falls and must be put down, suicide, brief shot of mutilated body
Diversity Issues:Class issues
Movie Release Date:November 16, 2012
DVD Release Date:February 18, 2013

Director Joe Wright and his favorite star, Kiera Knightley (“Pride and Prejudice,” “Atonement”) have produced a ravishing, highly theatrical version of Leo Tolstoy’s classic “Anna Karenina.”  It is deeply romantic but has more focus on the social and political context than many of the previous versions of the story.  It literally opens with the rise of a curtain over a grand proscenium stage, and throughout the film the story flickers from movie-style reality — not documentary but an integrated dramatic narrative — to something resembling a live production of a play or ballet.  At one intensely dramatic moment, the story literally and metaphorically spills over the edge of the stage for a shocking denouement.

Anna (Knightley) is a young mother married to the stiff but not unfeeling husband Karanin (Jude Law).  He cares for her but is very caught up in legislative and governance issues.  When we first see her, Anna is preparing to leave her home in St. Petersburg to go to the aid of her brother, Stiva (Knightley’s “Pride and Prejudice” co-star Matthew MacFadyen) and his pregnant wife, Dolly (“Boardwalk Empire’s” Kelly Macdonald), who is devastated when she learns he has been having an affair with the governess.  Anna hopes she can help the couple reconcile.  And she is not unhappy about spending time in Moscow, going to parties and concerts and mingling with members of society.

There she meets the dashing officer Count Vronsky  (Aaron Taylor-Johnson of “Kick-Ass” and “Savages”).  Vronsky is a bit spoiled by a life in which everything has come easily to him — good looks, money, women.  He is flirting with Dolly’s sister, an innocent young princess named Kitty (an excellent Alicia Vikander).  Stiva’s close friend Levin (Domhnall Gleeson), a shy but true-hearted landowner, loves Kitty.  He proposes, but, believing Vronsky will ask her to marry him, Kitty turns down Levin’s proposal.  Vronsky has just been flirting with Kitty.  He is drawn to Anna.  She is drawn to him, and returns home to put some distance between them.  He pursues her, and finally, she is overcome.  Besotted by him, she is overcome in every way, breaking every rule, ignoring every convention, the freedom as heady as the romance.

Like too many lovers before her, she believes that love is enough, that the world will support her, that nothing else matters.  She once counseled Dolly to rise above Stiva’s infidelity.  But she does not have any sympathy for Karanin’s humiliation or any gratitude for his willingness to stand by her, even when she is pregnant with Vronsky’s child.  Vronsky genuinely cares for her and does his best but he is out of his league.  When Anna realizes that society has no place for her anymore, she is devastated.  Tolstoy’s focus on the reunited Levin and Kitty, far from the glittering parties and gossip, contrasts the hypocrisy, artificiality, and sterility of the upper class with the authenticity and humanity of the people who work the earth and care for the sick.

Wright has a magnificent gift for images and a remarkable fluidity of camera movement (remember that bravura sustained shot on the beach in “Atonement”), all used in service of the story and characters.  The camera circles as the story does, with rings of parallel but contrasting stories.  Watch Anna’s costumes, elaborate, constricting at first and then simpler.  In the midst of her passion for Vronsky, they both wear white, as though they are removed from the rest of the world.  Later, she’s swathed in black.  Watch for images of omens, and images that compare or contrast the human world and the animal world, the fake and the real.  By embracing the artificiality of the form, Wright illuminates not just Anna’s anguish but Tolstoy’s vision.

Parents should know that this film includes sexual references and situations with some explicit images and suicide and a brief shot of a mutilated body.  Characters drink and abuse alcohol and drugs and there are tense and unhappy confrontations.

Recommendation: Mature teens-Adults

Family discussion: Tolstoy famously begins this book by saying that all happy families are alike but each unhappy family is different in its own way. Do you agree? How does the theatricality of the setting affect the story?

If you like this, try: the other versions of the story, especially the movies with Greta Garbo and Jacqueline Bisset, and the book by Tolstoy



Previous Posts

Should Movie Audiences Text to the Screen?
It is annoying enough when someone near you in a movie theater takes out a cell phone to text. Imagine how it would be if you then saw the text on the screen. That's what a Chinese theater is experimenting with in what they are calling "bullet screens." The idea is that what you are there to enjo

posted 3:59:17pm Sep. 02, 2014 | read full post »

Back to School Guidelines for Parents on Kids and Media
Screen time is a treat, not a right. It’s a good idea to make sure that it comes only after homework, chores, other kinds of play, and family time. Make sure there is some quiet time each day as well. The spirit is nourished by silence. All too often, we try to drown out our unsettled or lonely fe

posted 8:00:27am Sep. 02, 2014 | read full post »

After the Ice Bucket Challenge: Two Upcoming Movies About People With ALS
The Ice Bucket Challenge has brought a lot of money and attention to a devastating illness, ALS or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sometimes called Lou Gehrig's Disease for the the New York Yankee who had to leave baseball when he was afflicted with ALS. Two upcoming films about people with ALS

posted 7:00:17am Sep. 02, 2014 | read full post »

Thursdays in September on Turner Classic Movies: The Jewish Experience on Film
This month, TCM has an excellent series of films about the Jewish experience, every Thursday. TCM proudly presents The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film, a weekly showcase of movies focusing on Jewish history and heritage as portrayed onscreen. Co-hosting the films each Thursday is D

posted 9:21:56pm Sep. 01, 2014 | read full post »

Start the School Year With a No-Screen Week
A new study shows another good reason to detox from all screen time now and then, especially for kids.  Children who take a five-day break from all screens are better at reading real-life facial expressions to understand the emotions of the people around them.  Psyblog described the study, which s

posted 3:56:33pm Sep. 01, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.