hopscotchee: keira knightley score: 83 rating: R time: 130 minutes
shut the front freakin' stage doors!! why have people been talking about atonement when they really should've been talking about anna karenina?? (wow!!) hopping from one joe wright movie to the next, we were taken away by the striking contrast between the 2007 film and the 2012 one. being the later of the two, anna karenina sweeps you onto the grand stage of a pretty, elegant, and scandalous love story that is both enrapturing and exquisite. not to mention that it marks the reappearance of our hopscotch buddy and nocturnal animals star aaron taylor-johnson, who further flexes his acting abilities, making a very charming and polished vronsky. so, if you shared similar feelings with your take on atonement and didn't have a ball, don't fear, because anna karenina is here to cut in!!
by now you probably know the stance when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations; they're either great, like harry potter and the goblet of fire, pleasing both the readers and new-coming fans, or they suck, causing the readers to be dissatisfied or new fans to be confused. that being said, taking into consideration that neither of us read anna karenina before watching it, we can say that the film's execution did not simply rely on the viewership of leo tolstoy readers. in other words, this movie welcomed all watchers, making easy introductions to scenes and characters and crafting clear plot lines for those who are unfamiliar with the story. and for that, we can thank the director and editors. together, they paced and enfolded the story in a coherent yet saucily picante way, respectably interweaving the many secondary storylines together, while not losing focus on anna and vronsky's passionate love. for instance, although the audience was caught up in (spoiler) anna's ultimate downfall, as she chose between vronsky and oblonsky, they were equally attentive in the relationship between levin and kitty. and though one could say that they weren't the obvious, main characters, it didn't take away from the emotional swell of their block-spelling, "did no mean never", second proposal (especially after the guttin' denial of the first one earlier in the movie).
in addition, another way that the editors pieced the film together, fluidly, was by layering in familiar sounds throughout the movie. notably, heard with the repetition of train-moving-on-track sounds, this little add here and there tied the movie together and made it feel easily consistent. more importantly, this genius incorporation made a grander connection for the viewer of anna's mental state in certain scenes. how the train's noise perfectly added a subtle pairing to the escalation of overwhelming feelings that she was having, without having to redundantly over act or portray this. above all, though, the editors most definitely deserve this shout out, because of how this artful inclusion just so admirably led up to and queued (spoiler) anna's, unfortunate, death. not to mention the fact that they pulled the total love-story-hashtag-taylor-swift-i-love-you-signs out by relating the train back to anna and vronsky's first meeting on the platform, at the end of the movie. like, sears clothing (seriously) that's some major genie in a bottle right there!!
nonetheless, we can't go without mentioning the obvious showstopper to this whole movie: the fact that it was orchestrated like a play!! as if it wasn't obvious from the set alone, which was fantastically done and cleverly unique with the backstage set relating to the down-town and lower class parts of society, the continuous movement with lots of longs shots and moving elements made the story feel like it was always moving. one scene in particular that must be remembered was the dramatic ball scene. emphasized with spotlights and the vanishing of extras, this moment within the love story, solely focusing on the two lovers, was so graceful and poetic.
plus, at the bare minimum, other than this just firing off the creative flare guns left and right, anna karenina was such solid entertainment that hyped every second of this already climatic film. all it deserves is a bravo!!
and finally, just curious, did you catch bill skarsgard? (hehehe - omg - what a cameo, right!!)
-- thanks, keira xo