Director: Joe Wright
Nominated: Costume Design; Production Design; Cinematography; Original Score
Anna Karenina is a breathtakingly beautiful piece of filmmaking. Joe Wright’s films are always visually sumptuous anyway, but Anna Karenina raises the bar once more.
There is an intensely theatrical nature to this film thanks in part to being almost exclusively shot at the stunning Wiltons Music Hall. I have a real fondness for Wiltons. It’s a unique location that gains much of its charm from its run-down state. Adding to the theatrical nature of the production design Wright has bits of set swinging in to change locations and characters bringing various props and furniture on. There is a recurring theme of a stage throughout. again in part due to the constant use of the stage at Wiltons. It’s often used as a way of framing the action or drawing the eye to exactly where Wright wants you to be looking.
The costumes are exquisite and authentic to both the period and the status of the characters. The women’s clothes in particular are splendid and none more so than those of Anna Karenina herself, played with elegance by Keira Knightley. Knightley is perfect as Anna Karenina. She clearly suits period films and aristocratic roles well and her best performances have come under Joe Wright’s direction.
Jude Law and Aaron Johnson look regal in their costumes. Law as Karenin is elegant in his political garb and carries himself in the way of a man with every confidence in himself. He would be rather handsome if it wasn’t for his heinous haircut.
Johnson oozes charm and virility that come naturally to young military men. He is incredibly handsome in his military uniform despite the somewhat ridiculous blonde perm and mustache he sports as Vronsky.
Everyone moves with an effortless grace, especially in the highly choreographed, theatrical dance scenes.
The score by Dario Marianelli is beautiful and lyrical not to mention clever. He blends the score into the action on screen in a subtle way, like the music matching the sounds of the train on Anna’s first trip to Moscow. I especially like the way it morphs into the stamps of the clerks all certifying documents in perfect unison.
I found Anna Karenina a bit drawn out in terms of the story but then what else could I have expected from an adaptation of Tolstoy. However visually I was captivated from the very first frame and it sustained that initial captivation throughout. I would quite happily watch Anna Karenina many times over just so I could notice a little bit more of the artful craftsmanship and detail with each viewing.