(Unusual presentation of classic novel)
Scholars of Tolstoy's classic novel will either love or hate what Tom Stoppard has done with the lengthy tale of infidelity. The condensed version still runs over two hours and uses a gimmick to move the story along: the tale, set in Russia in 1874, is told on and around a stage.
Actors play out scenarios on, over and under the huge stage, using backdrops, props and other devices and periodically opening up the story to show the Russian countryside, manors and train stations.
Joyce and her friend Susan loved the idea. I thought at times it got in the way and almost came across as a parody, or even a Cliff’s Notes version of the tragic love story.
Keira Knightley is very good as the bored housewife of a prominent Russian government official (Jude Law). She becomes infatuated and has an affair with a handsome young Count Vronsky, causing quite a scandal among the Russian elite society. A subplot has her interfering with her brother's infidelity toward his wife.
If you can accept the unusual staging of the movie as Joyce did, you should enjoy "Anna Karenina.” If you are familiar with the plot, you know that, like most Russian novels, it comes to a tragic ending.
Good performances, with some rich dialogue and lush settings. Rated PG-13.