Joe Wright’s exhilarating Anna Karenina redefines the method filmmakers can use to adapt period literature. It imagines Leo Tolstoy’s characters – Russian aristocrats living their lives under society’s microscope – as players on a larger stage … literally. It remains one of the best films I’ve seen this year, a powerful statement on love’s devastating pull on an individual’s heart. Focus Features has chosen to play up the romantic angle in a series of posters that have been teased on Yahoo Movies.
This is such a smart campaign, because audiences need to be informed that Karenina -- despite being based on centuries-old Russian literature – is a passionate piece of filmmaking that crackles with creative energies, lustful performances, emotional heat and palpable tragedy. Don’t mistake this for another dry costume drama. Wright’s muse, Keira Knightley, and her co-star, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass), breath fire into the forbidden romance that tears at Karenina. And the other subplots floating in the couple’s social orbit put compelling spins on various levels of commitment that are appropriate to the time frame.
Anna Karenina is just a thrilling display of directorial chutzpah by Wright, who pushes the theater analogy as far as it can possibly go without letting the entire production topple like a house of cards. It’s mesmerizing filmmaking, and one I can’t wait for audiences to share in. A few more weeks, as Anna Karenina opens in limited release in the U.S. on Nov. 16.