I don’t usually see movies in theaters, but I loved this book enough that I’ve been anxiously counting the days until I could go see Anna Karenina. Amazingly, this movie was better than I had dared imagine it would be. Initially, I wasn’t so sure. The movie is in many ways made to look like a play. There are occasional repetitive little dance numbers used to establish a bureaucratic atmosphere. There are interesting scene changes, where people roll furniture on screen or a character walks through a door and into a new scene entirely. And there are a ton of artsy effects. It was something I would have expected much more in a play then in a movie. But it worked! The use of artistic effects to convey emotions and let you into the character’s heads was incredibly well done.
Fortunately, the artistic effects were accompanied by a beautiful and probably very high budget set and costumes, as well as great casting for every role. Finally and most importantly the acting was superb. The emotions so crucial to this story were all there. Kiera Knightly was, as I had thought she might be, an incredible Anna Karenina. When Vronsky followers her she firmly sends him away, but the small but wicked smile afterwards tells you she likes this man being so desperately in love with her. It was perfect.
There were, of course, some changes made to the plot. A few things were re-ordered and some scenes introduced to make the plot more clear to the viewer. Quite a few direct quotes were used, which I appreciated, and very little of importance was left out. The only small problem I had was that we skipped entirely Kitty’s time abroad, which made her sudden competence with sick people and even her growth as a person seem a little too sudden. With that exception, I felt the movie chose wisely the parts they left out and preserved the feel of the novel. I very much enjoyed watching Anna Karenina come to life and would recommend this incredible, high quality move almost as highly as the book.