Anna Karenina Is As Boring As Every Other Beautiful Girl You Know

Like everyone else who prides themselves on being literate, I looked forward to seeing Anna Karenina in theaters. A classic book adaptation on the big screen!? Was this not the reason I took AP English in high school? I sat down in my seat, prepared to be awed by the story of love and lust, romance and betrayal, Jude Law and facial hair.

But alas, I quickly grew bored watching this Russian fairy tale come to life. Sure the cinematography dazzled me and sure the decision to set the majority of the movie on a stage intrigued me, but at the end of the day the movie offered me nothing I hadn’t seen before. Like the beautiful girls from high school who couldn’t hold a conversation, Anna Karenina proved to be just as shallow.

Part of this may be the fact that I’m so over epic love stories centered around wealthy women who feel constrained by society. In this day and age where people are actually constrained by more than the country club dress codes and private school fundraisers, I have a hard time sympathizing with ladies like Anna Karenina. Like, call Justin Timberlake and then team up with him and then cry me a river. Your life’s sooooo hard. Woe is the woman who lives in a mansion with her high-ranking husband. Please tell me more about how your husband doesn’t appreciate you. And please, make sure to  tell me about it while you go from one high-society event to another. Wah. Wah. Wah.

So there’s the fact that you’re supposed to pity this woman for falling in love and breaking all of society’s rules. But sorry I’m not sorry that I have my pity parties all scheduled out for the rest of the season — and none of them involve repressed rich women. And yes, that include Rose from Titanic – another classic example of a woman who found herself unable to break-up with someone before cheating on him.

Then there’s the fact that I felt little chemistry between Keira Knightley and  Aaron Taylor-Johnson. And I think you’re supposed to feel lots of chemistry between Anna Karenina and Vronsky — so much so that you root for their illicit relationship even though you know it’s inevitably doomed. But I just didn’t feel like they really loved each other that much. However in their defense, that could be because I continually had to remind myself that Keira Knightley was playing Anna Karenina and not Elizabeth Bennet. I couldn’t quite keep it straight which men I wanted to root for — Vronsky or Mr. Darcy.

“We’re in Russia now Jenni, RUSSIA! Don’t be fooled by their British accents!” I kept saying to myself throughout the movie.

Last but not least, so many scenes felt long and drawn out. This isn’t Dance Moms, so do we really need such long dance scenes in the movie? I vote no. Clearly other people involved in the movie voted yes. Or about the scene where Levin and Kitty played block anagrams for hours on end. Let’s speed this up here since we all know where it’s going. If I wanted to play Words with Friends, I would.

By the time the closing credits started rolling, I felt like hours upon hours had passed in the theater. So imagine my shock when I found out it had only been 130 minutes. I honestly felt like three lifetimes passed while I sat in that theater. I prepared myself to exit into a post-apocalyptic world where cars flew and Tupac holograms walked around freely.

So much for getting to speak highly of this film when I’m trying to sound extra-pretentious at holiday parties this season. I’ll have to settle on exposing the hidden metaphors in Chasing Mavericks instead.

(Photo: IMDB)

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    • gigi5

      I feel this review is premature. Why didn’t you wait until you had seen Breaking Dawn part 2, so that you could make an intelligent comparison?

      • Jenni

        But I did see Breaking Dawn, Part 2 already…

      • gigi5

        Ok. Did you get sleepy?

      • Jenni

        In Breaking Dawn? No. Just confused.

      • abbeysbooks

        I read that it is pretty bad. I hated BD 1 and I know I’ll hate 2 probably more. Emascualted Rob again. I’m gonna serial kill all his directors past.

      • kidkennedy

        I’ll bring the ax.

      • gigi5

        I just saw it, it was great. The surprise near the end had the audience clapping twice. I thought it was much better than part 1.

        I’m probably going to have to wait for the dvd to see Anna Karenina, as I don’t think it will be in theaters here.

    • Guest

      Yes, I am baffled after seeing the trailer why no one is pointing out that everyone in the movie is speaking in a British accent. Seriously, this alone should tell you that they didn’t care enough about the book origins to take it seriously.

    • kidkennedy

      I understand that in the current economy and state of our nation it is often difficult to not want to trade problems with anyone who has money, but the wealthy are not immune to crushing matters of the heart nor are the beautiful. They hurt the same way we ugly, po folks do about some things.

      Anna Karenina is grandly theatrical and stylized. I think that because the story has been told on film four previous times, Wright needed to do something different with it.

      Personally, I appreciated the fact that it’s pace did not cater to ADD audiences. I like slow because slow gives the viewer time to take in details of a frame and there are lovely details in this movie.

      Knightley is always superb as Joe Wright’s muse. She seems to be made for period drama, love stories which got me to re-evaluate my annoyance with Kristen Stewart’s role choices.

      She plays again and again a lost, anti-social, angsty, rebellious type of character and does it perfectly. Some roles are made for her too and I am going to start enjoying her particular excellence for parts (the same way I do Keira’s) instead of wishing/ expecting her to have the diversity and range of, say,Phillip Seymour Hoffman or Gary Oldman, YET.

      They should of all had Russian accents! (a major flaw in the film).

      • Anne

        I think Kristen Stewart is very capable of playing characters outside her comfort zone and all the characters she have portrayed have not been lost, anti-social, or rebellious.

      • kidkennedy

        So do I. Did you see the big “YET” at the end of my sentence?
        She is clearly attracted to characters with these traits.
        The remark was more of an admission of mine and not intended as insulting.

    • WindGirlدخترباد♫ღ♫ღ♫

      “We’re in Russia now Jenni, RUSSIA! Don’t be fooled by their British accents!”
      hahaha..I loved this line of your review .
      I honestly love Keira Knightley a lot . she plays her role like a REAL Actress and I havent seen Anna Karenina yet but I will after reading the book.
      Im not gonna have high expectations because its how it is … books are always SO MUCH BETTER than movies.Im disappointed that they didnt have Russian accents but I still watch it for once :) thanks for your great review…loved it