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Anna Karenina

✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

United Kingdom

Rated R · 2h 10m

Director Joe Wright
Starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kelly Macdonald

Genre Drama, Romance

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In St. Petersburg, members of aristocratic society pine after objects of their affection who are seldom their own spouses. An enthralling affair with Count Vronsky embroils Anna Karenina, wife of an imperial minister, in controversy. She must choose whether to enter exile with Vronsky, or sacrifice their love in order to remain with her family.


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Jamie Bitz Profile picture for Jamie Bitz

Featuring an utterly unrecognizable Jude Law and set inside a theater mimicking the real-world, the absurdity of court performance is highlighted. While it is difficult to unpack an entire Tolstoy novel into a mere 2 hour film, this update is no stranger to the tragedy central to his plot. Although the film may drag on a bit for those who are not period piece lovers and Kitty and Konstantin's love story feels a bit thrown away, the tragic heart of Tolstoy's story remains.

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Empire by

If it doesn't ultimately engage your heart as it might, Anna Karenina is period drama at its most exciting, intoxicating and modern. Spellbinding.

Slant Magazine by Andrew Schenker

The film contains far more passion and a tad more complexity than the dominant and typically more staid model of middlebrow costume drama.

Variety by Leslie Felperin

Setting most of the action in a mocked-up theater emphasizes the performance aspects of the characters' behavior, a strategy enhanced by lead thesp Keira Knightley's willingness to let her neurotic Anna appear less sympathetic than in previous incarnations.

Total Film by Neil Smith

Pimped, primped and dressed to the nines, Joe Wright's Tols-toy story looks the business. Like a disappointing Christmas present, though, the pleasure quickly evaporates once you remove the shiny paper.

Time by Richard Corliss

Knightley embodies Anna as a girlish woman who has never felt erotic love; once smitten, she is raised to heavenly ecstasy before tumbling into the abyss of shame. It's a nervy performance, acutely attuned to the volcanic changes a naive creature must enjoy and endure on her first leap into mad passion. She helps make Anna Karenina an operatic romance worth singing about.

The Globe and Mail (Toronto) by Rick Groen

The results are generally refreshing. Much of the film takes place inside a theatre, as if to suggest the shenanigans of the Saint Petersburg aristocracy were a form of public entertainment.

The Hollywood Reporter by Todd McCarthy

Dazzlingly designed and staged in a theatrical setting so as to suggest that the characters are enacting assigned roles in life, this tight and pacy telling of a 900 page-plus novel touches a number of its important bases but lacks emotional depth, moral resonance and the simple ability to allow its rich characters to experience and drink deeply of life.


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