Anna Karenina

 (2,605)6.62 h 10 min2012X-RayR
Trapped in a loveless marriage, aristocrat Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) enters into a life-changing affair with the affluent Count Vronsky. Directed by Joe Wright from a novel by Leo Tolstoy.
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Keira KnightleyAaron JohnsonJude Law
English [CC]
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Supporting actors
Domhnall GleesonAlicia VikanderRuth WilsonOlivia WilliamsEmily WatsonMatthew MacfadyenKelly MacdonaldAaron Taylor-JohnsonOskar McNamara
Eric FellnerPaul WebsterTim Bevan
Universal City Studios Product
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Alcohol usefoul languagesexual contentsmoking
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4.1 out of 5 stars

2605 global ratings

  1. 62% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 13% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 10% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 7% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 9% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

TeaholicReviewed in the United States on September 23, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
A new take on love between Anna and Vronsky. Incredible.
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First of all, if you do decide to order this film (and I highly encourage you), please remember that this is a new way of looking at this incredible and powerful love story between Anna Karenina and Count Vronsky. No, it will not cover the entire book, and no, it will not follow perfectly to every detail. I read Anna Karenina more than 10 times at least, in its original language, so English speakers you already lose stuff in translation.

So please for the love of everything, let go, and watch this incredible piece of artwork because that is what it is - moving art. It is lush, it is powerful, and it is oh so beautiful. It is a long novel, very detailed, so unless you're making it a series there is no way to cover everything. This film concentrates on Anna and Vronsky, their affair, their powerful and forbidden love. All of the other characters, though some of them main, really do end up playing second fiddle to Knightley and Taylor-Johnson. What an interesting combination, those two, I would have never considered Taylor-Johnson for this role, but he delivers. In the book, the character of Vronsky is not a hardcore, manly man, no, he is young and he is used to getting his way. Taylor-Johnson with his tousled blond hair embodies the character. Knightley of course is the queen of period films, and I love her in this role. Quite neurotic, interesting to see that considering that in the book Karenina was less so. Nonetheless, she is wonderful in this role.

The sets, wardrobe, music - incredible! You are transported to an old Russian theatre, you see the backstage, and it is a great way of portraying the life of Anna - she was always on stage due to her place in society, and she was eagerly and strongly judged by her 'friends'. A lot of work went into the settings, and they are gorgeous. The wardrobe of Anna especially is very interesting, especially for anyone who appreciates costume work and period clothing. It is a mix of late 19th century with the 1950s. An absolute treat. I wish I could wear those pieces myself. And the music!! It completes the film. I got goosebumps on my skin, tingles down my spine. Beautiful piano compositions.

This film is moving art, please watch it and appreciate it for what it is - a story of passionate love, and the emotional trial of a high society woman struggling with being constantly on 'stage.'
89 people found this helpful
I Love Books!!Reviewed in the United States on November 22, 2018
1.0 out of 5 stars
Difficult to follow
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Ugh! Awful layout. This is not a movie. So they should not have categorized it as one. Thus is a stage play on screen. If I want to see a stage play, I can go to the theater. I expect my movies to be enjoyable. This was not. I could not get into the storylines with all the silliness and background shuffling going on. Great cinematography but awful idea.
28 people found this helpful
johnfReviewed in the United States on February 11, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Worth watching despite or because of its unusual style.
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Director Joe Wright’s film adaptation of Anna Karenina is a real audience splitter and one where those who don’t like it really hate it. It’s also not the usual split between the audience and the critics but one in which both audience and critics are split, which is much more rare. Though when you add everything up I think it is more of a misfire than a success it is at least an interesting misfire.

Whatever one may think of the result, Wright certainly went out on a limb with this film and you have to admire his sheer audacity in trying something so different when a typical Masterpiece Theater approach (worthy but conventional) would have sufficed. It seems as if he was inspired by Australian director Baz Luhrman who made gaudy spectacles of Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby. This has all the visual spectacle of those films and also their elements of surrealism. Of course this kind of direction is very obvious and rather show-off to the extent where it seems to call more attention to itself than to the plot and actors, but that’s part of the risk you take.

The direction is criticized not only for its over-the-top nature but also at times being a device to save on budget. The film’s budget was 41 million, which is not a cheap amount for 2012 even if it falls short of the budgets of comic book films. Using toy trains for real ones could be seen this way. But I think the criticism of placing most of the action on a theater stage (which is sometimes visible and other times not) was chosen to emphasize the artificiality of Russian high society and Anna’s life which was, so to speak, lived on a stage before an audience of her peers. The moments of surrealism accentuate the idea of this artificial world and one may like them or not. I found the strange arm and hand movements during the waltz interesting, if impossible in real life, where others find them ridiculous. Note too that the film leaves the stage for the scenes with Levin, the most down to earth and, in a sense real person among the characters.

Other criticisms are the usual misplaced and prosaic quibbles. “It’s not as good or as much as the book.” Unless it’s a very short book, films are never all that was in the original book, least of all one like Anna Karenina. Films of this story have always had to more or less scrap Levin’s story (half the plot). That is where most of Tolstoy’s larger themes of changes in Russia, the conservatism of the recently emancipated serfs and Levin’s struggle with the meaning of life and turning to religion are elaborated. At least he got a bit of a role here. We are as a result, always left with Anna’s story of love and passion, personal fulfillment and duty and the intricacies of aristocratic society. There’s only so much time in a film. Other complaints about details of 19th century life in Russia are out of place unless too outrageous or anachronistic as this is not a documentary. I will say I found the can-can out of place at an aristocratic function.

There’s a huge amount of derision for the casting of Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Count Vronsky but I think this is mostly by an older audience who have formed their opinions from older films (Frederick March in 1935) or reading the novel. They say he is too young here and should be a mature man of the world. But Tolstoy never gives any ages in the book so their opinion is a mix of speculation and their own preconceptions. From information in the book we can guess Anna to be around 30 (Married ten years in an era when girls married between 16 and 20). Most people feel Count Vronsky is much younger, 20-22, not older, especially since his military career seems to just be beginning and he’s looking for promotion and glory. This makes more sense overall since he would have been an officer automatically from his social class and not have to spend years working his way up in the ranks as some insist. The attraction as it is shown in this film seems to be very physical as well as emotional and ever since the youth-obsessed 60’s middle aged men are not generally seen as attractive, especially for a young Keira Knightley. In fact, Knightley’s films draw a younger female audience and pairing her with an older man would not have gone over very well. Even worse, since the teenage Kitty ( the ball is her first) is also supposed to be infatuated with Vronsky and hopes to marry him, casting a middle aged man in the role would look really creepy nowadays.

As for the rest, Sarah Greenwood’s production design is lavish and wonderful to see in its own right. The cast is mostly good, especially Jude Law as Anna’s cold husband Kerenin, Domhnail Gleason as the landowner Levin and Alicia Vikander as Kitty. Keira Knightley was good as Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice but here seems too much a modern young woman. Somehow her performance makes Anna seem like a spoiled, whimsical girl disappointed over a flirtation and later on absurdly demanding of Vronsky. Jude Law’s Karenin may be cold and bureaucratic but he shows an honor and decency that made me really like him by the end, something Basil Rathbone’s performance could never do.

That, more than the directorial flourishes is what made the film a miss for me. It doesn’t have the sense of grandeur and tragedy that it should and plays more like a willful young woman who causes all kinds of trouble and evokes little sympathy. Still it has some fine scenes and is totally worth watching for its grand gestures and general opulence alone.
17 people found this helpful
A. McCollumReviewed in the United States on February 26, 2017
1.0 out of 5 stars
This is the perfect example of a movie missing the entire point of ...
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wow - unique movie, and the filming is impeccable. But, if you are looking to see the story written by Tolstoy, don't watch this first! I have recently finished the novel, and watched this movie as a first intro to screen adaptations. This is the perfect example of a movie missing the entire point of the the novel (I would consider Count of Monte Cristo in this category as well). The soul of this novel is found in the final book, which is all but eliminated in the movie version, which chooses instead to focus on Anna's suicide as the climactic element. So while it is a beautiful movie, it misses the key elements of the story. To condense a novel of this magnitude into a film is difficult - this effort failed. Some of the highlights (Anna's desperate remorse during childbirth, her insane and unfounded jealousy with Vronksy) which lay a foundation for truly understanding the story are missing. So - if you have read the book, enjoy this movie as an interesting but shallow interpretation. If you haven't read the book, don't watch this, go and read the book!!!!!
43 people found this helpful
batpoxReviewed in the United States on February 15, 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
How *not* to make a period movie
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This attempted "creative"(??) mixing theater and film was such a waste, particularly for a period piece. Pride and Prejudice was so good, but this - despite good actors - was unwatchable. I was hoping the bizarreness was only the setup, but sadly it continued. It is one of those unfortunate things that happens when there is no vision for the movie. Sometimes it looks like a comedy (rouged tuba players prancing around) and sometimes the drama it was supposed to be. Alas, it fails miserably. I think the writers/director forgot that entertainment was about entertaining.
10 people found this helpful
TurtleWinsReviewed in the United States on January 31, 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
Flatly theatrical, plus a bizarrely gory scene that wrecks the movie
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I read the novel recently and thought this film would be enjoyable, but its overdone "this is a play" production has a way of flattening out the story and performances, as if everything is overtly pretend. Then, ironically, there's one realistic scene, a horrifically gory train accident, that completely ruined the experience of watching the film. I can't get the scene out of my head. Please be warned, especially if you were thinking of watching this with your family.
7 people found this helpful
NHBunionReviewed in the United States on March 14, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Stunningly Beautiful Film
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I have watched earlier movie versions of Tolstoy's classic novel "Anna Karenina", but this 2012 version is by far my favorite. The actors do a fantastic job with the story, though I think it helps to have a general idea of the plot before viewing. There are 2 story lines in the book, one concerns nobleman Constantine Levin, who farms his many acres while wooing a young woman who initially rejects his marriage proposal. The Anna story line follows the affair begun by a beautiful, passionate woman married to an emotionally unavailable, high-ranking, wealthy government minister in St. Petersburg. Set in the late 1800s Russian upper class social world, Anna meets Count Vronsky, a handsome regimental officer, at a train station after Anna shares a train car with Vronsky's mother.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson portrays Count Vronsky with the perfect blend of social superiority and passionate love for Anna, who finally succumbs to his charms.
I found this movie riveting, the staging as a play was rather inventive, to good effect. The costumes are gorgeous and the choreography beyond original. I was haunted by this film for days after, it was that good.
One person found this helpful
LarissanReviewed in the United States on May 1, 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
Deconstructing Tolstoy - A Mockery of Greatness
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This is, quite frankly, one of the worst film I've ever seen. It's a parody...of Tolstoy? The music is farcical, and the settings are on a theatrical stage - interesting idea, but it was not done well and creates confusion as the scenes move from silly cluttered stages to real settings. It doesn't work; you have no idea what is going on. You wonder, "why are people sitting around having tea in a warehouse full of old lamps?" The settings are cluttered with lamps, every where lamps, light fixtures, chandeliers.

Mathew Macfadyen plays Oblonsky, bumbling, stumbling, and bumping in to people while donning a silly mustache. The on screen chemistry of Knightly and Macfadyen from Pride and Prejudice is non-existent in this film. Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays an obnoxiously over acted rakish Count Vronsky and is also obviously miscast as Knightly's love interest. They have zero chemistry. You don't care about them as characters.

Everything about this movie is a joke, but I guess that was the point. Joe Wright must hate Tolstoy, otherwise he wouldn't have reduced it to a mockery such as this. Everything about this film is awful, from the sets, the acting, the casting, the costumes, and above all else, the butchering of an epic story of seduction, betrayal, and despair.
2 people found this helpful
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