Sadly, this newest adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic ‘Anna Karenina’ does not even come close to capturing the spirit of the novel, especially in terms of fully conveying the passion and love between, and the ensuing tragedy of, the main characters. Therefore, I will try to review this film having solely in mind the director’s take on the novel, ignoring as much as possible the discrepancies between the novel and the film, otherwise it would be a never-ending task.
Regarding the plot, Joe Wright’s ‘Anna Karenina’ gives a somewhat accurate overview, covering almost all the main events in the book, though in a rush. We see the main heroine, Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley), a Russian socialite, who is married to Alexei Karenin (Jude Law), a high-ranking government minister, arrive from St. Petersburg to visit her brother ‘Stiva’ (Matthew Macfadyen) and his family, Oblonskys, in Moscow. Karenina’s brother ‘Stiva’ Oblonsky is married to ‘Dolly’ (Kelly Macdonald), who also has a younger sister, Kitty Shcherbatskaya (Alicia Vikander). In the process, Karenina, who also has a a child, falls in love with one of young cavalry officers and an initial suitor to Kitty, Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Parallel to this, we also see the story of Konstantin Levin (Domhnall Gleeson), a landowner and an old friend of ‘Stiva’, and his infatuation with Kitty.