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.