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December 7th, 2012

Movie Review - Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina

Starring: Keira Knightley, Matthew McFadyen, Kelly McDonald, Jude Law, Olivia Williams, Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and more.

Directed by: Joe Wright Screenplay by: Tom Stoppard Based on the Novel by: Leo Tolstoy Cinematography by: Seamus McGarvey Original Music by: Dario Marianelli

Premise: Leaving her husband and son to go to Moscow to help her brother reconcile with his wife, Anna Karenina inadvertently crosses paths with Vronsky, a young and passionate soldier who is currently courting another woman. The spark struck between them sets their own lives and that of those around them spiraling in directions none ever expected and which could prove the undoing of them all. (Rated R)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Keira Knightley does a superb job as Anna Karenina. From her drifting through her overtly ordered life to resisting temptation to giving in to it and eventually spiraling into despair, every emotion was clear and full. As her conservative, workaholic husband, Jude Law was perfect. Matthew McFadyen brought a touch of levity as Anna's philandering brother, Olansky. All the performances by the cast were outstanding.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The effects for this film are many, though most go back to the 'tried and true' methods of theater, just on a grander and expanded scale. Reality waxes and wanes, toy trains transforming into actual machines or illusions of docks or Moscow streets in the upper walking rafters of a theater. Image is everything, whether by a reality imposed by society, or that dreamed up for ourselves. Slices of life turned surreal. 

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: Nicely paced for the most part, the story follows the developing lives of a number of characters all somehow connected to or affected by Anna Karenina. As the film's tag line says "You can't ask why about love." And we're shown various types of it, from destructive, to one sided, to sublime. It is the main driving force behind all. But it isn't always healthy for everyone. 

The integration of the stage motif and and its intricate interweaving between social expectations and rules of conduct was an interesting take on a story which has been told many times in film. At first it seemed a little jarring, then into a lot of fun. Watching its influence on the different scenes was interesting. Not all viewers will enjoy it, however, as to some it will prove a distraction rather than an added layer, and jerk them multiple times out of the story's trance.

There are a lot of little details that have to be caught visually, or from sounds, little clues of things not addressed directly. These worked really well. And though the industrial age was well entrenched at the time the story is set in, the machines in the film are the people. The choreography in this movie for several sequences was just amazing. 

Lots and lots of symbolism hidden throughout - the ordered and staged state in the lives of those involved, yet when they are happy, content, or at peace they are out in nature, under an open sky. The longer you think about the film after it's over, the more discoveries you'll make, and the more astounded you will be.

4) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: The majority of the film occurs indoors, but the locations vary widely, even when it is in the same place as it will have been twisted into something else. The country scenes are all vast and wide. The inner scenes inversely are always restrained, like puzzles being changed, but still leaving you trapped in the same location - stuck.

5) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: The costumes were fantastic. Several of the costume changes are done as we watch - definitely not your normal fare, yet so wonderfully done. 

Conclusion: "Anna Karenina" is a stunning, visual treat. Very subtle on many levels. Slows down a bit too much towards the end, but totally worth it.  And wait until you see the ballroom scene - very complex and even pays homage to the Russian Ballet. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Better for Matinee)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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