Anna Karenina

  • 12
  • Joe Wright (2012)
  • UK
  • 124 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
2 out of 5

After directing Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice and Atonement, Joe Wright casts her in this left-field adaptation of Tolstoy's epic novel. Knightley does a commendable job of softening the hard edges of the imprudent Russian ingénue married off at 18 to Jude Law's older statesman. She risks her position in 19th-century society and - more controversially - her relationship with their young son to indulge in an affair with the wilful Count Vronsky (a typically moody Aaron Taylor-Johnson). And yet she's upstaged by her director, who draws attention to himself with every frame. There were incongruous camera moves in Pride & Prejudice and flashes of surrealism in Atonement, but Wright lays it on thick here, turning this tragedy into a lavish musical - just without the song and dance numbers. Clearly, the artifice is a symbol for the hypocrisy of the upper classes, but it also trivialises the suffering of Karenina in her attempts to overcome it. The end result is a beautiful bore.

Plot Summary

The wife of a government official travels to Moscow to save her brother's marriage. Her journey leads to an encounter with a married cavalry officer, with whom she is instantly smitten, and when he follows her home, a passionate affair develops that scandalises the town and drives her husband to desperate ends. Period drama based on Leo Tolstoy's novel, starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

Cast and crew


Anna Karenina
Keira Knightley
Jude Law
Aaron Johnson
Kelly Macdonald
Matthew Macfadyen
Domhnall Gleeson
Princess Betsy Tverskoy
Ruth Wilson
Alicia Vikander
Countess Vronsky
Olivia Williams
Countess Lydia Ivanova
Emily Watson
Princess Myagkaya
Michelle Dockery
Holly Grainger


Joe Wright

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Available on DVD and BluRay
Released 7 Sep 2012
Certificate 12

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