Picks and Pans Review: Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina
Anna Karenina has a big problem. She's in love with a dashing soldier and pregnant with his child. But she is also married, and her stuffy husband tells her that if she leaves him, she'll never see her young son again. What's a mother to do?
Leo Tolstoy spent more than 800 pages exploring his heart-strong heroine's plight in his enduring 19th-century novel. Consider this latest movie effort—there have been at least a dozen films based on the book, including two starring Greta Garbo and one with Vivien Leigh—the Cliffs Notes version. As directed and adapted by English director Bernard Rose (Immortal Beloved), the nearly two-hour movie hits all the novel's major plot points but fails to capture the depth of the characters' feelings. Mostly, this Anna Karenina seems to be about sumptuous costumes and gilded settings. The fancy frippery and fine furniture are lovely to look at, but shouldn't we be paying more attention to the folks inhabiting this universe?
Most disappointing of all is the lack of chemistry between French actress Marceau (Braveheart), who portrays Anna, and Bean (GoldenEye), the British actor who plays Count Vronsky, her lover. Except for one steamy scene when they're together onscreen, it's almost as chilly as Siberia. (PG-13)