Tag Archives: Jude Law

Anna Karenina Review – I’m being nice and balanced here but wish I didn’t have to be!

10 Sep



The Plot:

Set in late-19th-century Russia high-society, the aristocrat Anna Karenina enters into a life-changing affair with the affluent Count Vronsky.

The Good:

With any Joe Wright production you’ll see a lavish array of costumes and set design, and Anna Karenina is no exception. This time Wright’s world is almost entirely set on an old theatre stage and the intricate transitions from one scene to another are seamlessly done.

This is a big budget production, using clever means to depict a familiar story while taking a bold step away from past adaptations of Leo Tolstoy’s book. This re-telling can definitely walk away confident that it will almost certainly gather Oscar nods for costume, set, sound and potentially cinematography.

In terms of casting, Jude Law is sublime as Alexei Karenin, (Anna’s passive and tolerant husband) and by doing next to nothing, his presence on screen is scene stealing and captivating to watch. Aaron Johnson (despite his mustache) is a convincing Count Vronsky, a young virile officer who is tempted by the allure of married Anna.

As light relief, Matthew McFadden who previously played the brooding Mr Darcy, successfully don’s a jovial moustache as Anna’s lothario brother Oblonsky. Additionally newcomer Alicia Vikander deserves a notable mention for her innocent and gentile portrayal as Kitty.

The Bad:

Sadly there are a few flaws in Joe Wright’s beautiful effort. First and foremost the film is 130minutes long, which may stretch the patience of audiences, especially those that might not appreciate the film’s new take on period drama.

Though some of the film’s elaborate set-changing choreography works very well, particularly during the early portions of the film, as the story progresses it’s harder to sustain. Once the initial novelty of twirling scenery and people wears off, it may prove a distraction, especially for those eager to dismiss such an approach as heavy handed or pretentious.

However good the cast are, all the glamorous visuals can leave little room at times for them to fully develop their characters. The film’s central narrative is laid out in such clear parts that it can feel almost episodic at times, with gradual emotions making way for lavish production value.

Keira Knightley in the title role of Anna is at least breathtaking to look at as she takes on one of the most complex female characters in literature. However, even the former First Lady of the silver screen Gretta Garbo had trouble tackling the part in 1935. Sadly critics will once again claim that Keira’s performance is perhaps overly reliant on gasps and corsets.

Keira was Oscar nominated for Pride & Prejudice but it’s unlikely she’ll find similar accolades for Anna Karenina. The set and costume departments steal her thunder this time. Fans may also find her chemistry with Aaron Johnson, less passionately convincing than the intensity she found with James McAvoy in Atonement.

The Ugly Truth:

If you’re after a visual feast of beautiful costumes, make up and set design you will definitely not be disappointed. The high concept theatricality of Joe Wright’s production and Keira Knightley’s trademark performance may not entirely charm or convince everyone though.


Day 1 – BFI London Film Festival – Review 360 – Opening Night Film

12 Oct

So here we are, the start of the 55th London Film Festival and boy was it an early start. Queuing from 8:45 this morning were bloggers, journos and film buffs posing as accredited members of the press. What were we all waiting for? Well, its billed as a headliner film featuring Rachel Weisz, Jude Law and Anthony Hopkins and captained by City of God director Fernando Meirelles.

So apart from being one of the most difficult films to find the trailer for, what is it all about? Well, to me, as the opening film of the Festival, I was expecting it to be somewhat explosive, however was a little bit de-flated as the movie progressed. In a nutshell, its a story of worldwide interconnectivity and a story of temptation, romance and friendship, demonstrating how one persons actions can interlink and affect another persons life. I know, heavy for 9am on a Wednesday morning. For the opening of a film festival as large as the London one, I would have expected something demonstrating the cream of the crop of what the UK had to offer, quite like they did last year with Never Let Me Go, however here it seems more like they chose to go with a more diverse international picking which perhaps honours a collection of talent from our European brothers and sisters (actors and actresses).

Dont get me wrong, the performances were good, well timed, and engaging, however it may be the structure and Peter Morgan’s script which was slightly lacking in parts. The length of the film overall was that little bit too long and sadly the climactic ending was not as dramatic as I had hoped, however the cinematography and whirlwind tour of various different destinations were well represented. The biggest problem I had however, was that it was one of those films that just plodded along rather than captivate its audience. I personally am not a huge fan of ensemble pieces which don’t have lead characters to help carry the film, and this film didn’t change my mind. Sadly, there wasn’t enough in-depth character understanding and I yearned for more information as I was walking out of the screening. The heavyweight names – Hopkins, Weisz, Law are not something to sell the film on, they are small parts in a larger machine, plus none of them are due to turn up tonight so if you’re camping out to see the big, well known stars, you’d be better off holding on for the George Clooney films next week. So for those who are fans of a slow moving, uneventful film this might be just the choice for you, but unfortunately it really wasn’t for me.

So my advice would be, not to avoid it completely – its not bad, its just not for everyone – but don’t rush and give up a good evening for this film if its sunny. If you’re a Fernando Merielles fan, stick to City of God and The Constant Gardener – and if you’re fans of the well known Russian and Slovakian actors in the film – you may just enjoy it.

However I don’t want to leave this all doom and gloom, it really is personal preference on this one, however the rest of the festival is hosting some very exciting talent on the big screen – next week looks like the big week for more highly anticipated films and tomorrow we’ve got a couple of indie successes premiering (Like Crazy, 50/50) so stay tuned for this and again, not all films are to everyone’s taste but there are so many coming up over the next couple of weeks that its definitely worth a train fare and cinema ticket to be part of this wonderful event.

Until tomorrow….