By Dave Rosenthal
2:12 PM EST, November 30, 2012
Anna Karenina, this week's featured adaptation, is dividing the critics. Shallow, overblown eye candy? Faithful retelling of Tolstoy's tale of doomed lovers? You'll have to judge this one for yourself. But don't be surprised if you get an argument, including whether Keira Knightly was the right choice for Anna. Here are excerpts from some reviews:
-- Tribune: At its most frantic the cutting and staging here veers perilously close to Baz Luhrmann "Moulin Rouge!" territory for comfort. Or for Tolstoy. I'd rather have seen [director Joe] Wright's carefully elaborated production on a stage, instead of in a movie partly on a stage.
-- Los Angeles Times: The director's interpretation has a feeling of something to be studied, appreciated, but it makes for a movie that is difficult to enjoy. Rather than being swept up in all the intrigues, you can never forget that this is a "work" of art, or the labor involved in every single scene. In the end "Anna Karenina" lets you down — visually stunning, emotionally overwrought, beautifully acted, but not quite right.
-- NPR: The best that can be said of Knightley is that she's puppy-eyed eye candy, in vibrant reds and blacks with fur trims to die for. ... Inner life comes hard to Knightley, and she never gets a grip on the mounting emotional turmoil that threatens to crush Anna as she progresses from stylish young hipster-about-town to kept woman to bereft mother to paranoid social pariah.
-- New York Times: The camera hurtles through the scenery as if in hungry pursuit; the lush colors of the upholstery and the costumes pulsate with feeling; the music (by Dario Marianelli) howls and sighs and the performances are fresh, energetic and alive. Compressing the important events of Tolstoy’s thousand pages into an impressively swift two hours and change, Mr. Wright turns a sweeping epic into a frantic and sublime opera.
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