When it’s over, life is a stage, a performance done in scenes and acts. This is Director Joe Wright’s interpretation of Leo Tolstoy’s tragic story of love and forgiveness. Kiera Knightly takes the leading role as Anna, a woman married to a Russian aristocrat (Jude Law), who gives up position for true love for Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and pays the price for it. I have seen many versions of this classic tale, and none I really liked. However, Wright’s version is the most memorable, because of its palette of wondrous colors. I love the art direction. It is a spectacle of lavish costumes and opulent décor. No words are necessary to describe each character, because their clothes do the talking for them. Whether the clothes have a high collar or is draping down the shoulders, the clothing is a commentary of who they are and says something significant about their personalities. The acting is good by all, in particular, Law, who captures the coldness of Alexis Karenin perfectly, while still allowing a sliver of humanity to peek through the stoic demeanor. Still, despite the A-list actors, I cannot get into the minds of the characters. I cannot connect with them, because they are so strong willed, like iron, like the steam train that is so symbolic throughout the film. Although Anna’s strength falters at the end, her actions can be considered defiant, and there is strength in that also, which never allows the viewer to completely engage in the pain she suffers. The scenes show her emotional and physical collapse, but they do not pull me in. There is something lacking, perhaps realism (because the film is a stage - literally), which makes me feel very detached from the characters. As tragic as the story is, I did not feel any desire to mourn the losses in the name of love.
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