I know how my colleagues feel about the 2012 remake of Anna Karenina starring Keira Knightley as the eponymous tragic heroine. Trust me, if we’re going to put the 2012 film against the 1997 one starring Sophie Marceau, there’s really no contest as to which one is better acted and has better costumes. Of course, Sean Bean as Vronsky is panty-incinerating hot and Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Vronsky is more boy-band cute than the kind of guy a girl would be willing to end an otherwise decent marriage for. And Keira Knightley is good, but not Sophie Marceau good. That said, I think that the 2012 version deserves some consideration before dismissing it out of hand.
Here are a few of my reasons why…
1. Tom Stoppard adapted the screenplay
This matters to me because I love Tom Stoppard and just about everything he touches turns to genius and sparkles. Granted, the screenplay is not exactly your typical Tom Stoppard-y film, leaning further away from the dry wit and irreverence and more towards the heavy and depressing, but that’s Tolstoy for you.
2. The theatrical vibe of the film
The film is almost entirely set in a theater/on a stage, with the exception to the parts dealing with Levin’s (fabulous) house, and in no way is there any attempt to make it realistic. Once that became evident, I was able to sit back and let the art wash over me.
3. Jude Law
I have always had the hots for Jude Law, and while this role does nothing for his hotness, his portrayal of Karenin was the thing I liked the most about the film. Not so much brooding, but quietly suffering while his wife spirals out of control. Also, the condom scene. Safe sex, everyone!
4. Paintings come to life
The art historian in me especially loves this touch. And the theme of art and artwork is repeated throughout the film.
5. Not all the costumes suck
Some are actually rather pretty.
6. Anna’s red dress makes sense within the context of the film
She’s heading towards mental breakdown. You’d have to be mental to wear a dress like this in public.
7. Anna’s dressing scene
I love the way the maid moves and manipulates Anna’s body, as though she’s a doll. Which is pretty much the point — Anna has not yet discovered her agency.
Which side are you on — do you love or hate 2012’s Anna Karenina?