“A Bit Too Cold, A Bit Too Rushed, But Nonetheless Gripping And Inventive. The Result Is A Different Stage On A Staged Cinema.”
In making the radical artistic choice to tell the story as if it were being enacted by players on a stage, Wright falls passionately in love with his own fanciful artifices.
Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly
It is risky and ambitious enough to count as an act of artistic hubris, and confident enough to triumph on its own slightly - wonderfully - crazy terms.
A.O. Scott - New York Times
The Wright/Stoppard Anna Karenina is not a total success, but it's a bold and creative response to the novel.
Peter Bradshaw - Guardian [UK]
An intoxicating spectacle that breathes new life into the classic Tolstoy novel, incorporating the notion that all life's a stage -- at least for imperial Russian society.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
Wright's "Anna Karenina" sings, dances and finally soars, even as its legendary heroine plunges to her most self-destructive depths.
Ann Hornaday - Washington Post
There's a coldness to the new "Anna Karenina" that has nothing to do with the white stuff piled up along the streets of 19th-century St. Petersburg. It's the chill that comes from a director entranced with his own talent.
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
Confoundingly good performances gradually win the movie from Wright's puerile conceit, giving us an Anna Karenina if not for the ages, than at least for an evening.
Nick Pinkerton - Village Voice
"Anna" is daring enough to seduce us, if ultimately incapable of breaking our hearts.
Elizabeth Weitzman - New York Daily News
The ropes and curtains and ladders of this "Anna Karenina" serve mainly as distractions. And they're solutions to a part of the problem that doesn't exist.
Joe Morgenstern - Wall Street Journal
Thank goodness for Domhnall Gleeson's gentle turn as Oblonsky's friend Levin. The ginger-haired landowner is the movie's warmest figure.
Lisa Kennedy - Denver Post
... the signal achievement of this version of 'Anna Karenina' is that it manages to use a world literary classic as the platform for nothing less than the longest Chanel ad ever.
Glenn Kenny - MSN Movies
As boldly original a miscalculation as any you're likely to see.
David Edelstein - New York Magazine
The metaphorical force of this conceit-insisting on the artifice of the social world that frowns on rapture-is not hard to grasp, but its frailty unsettles some of the actors.
Anthony Lane - New Yorker
This is a sumptuous film - extravagantly staged and photographed, perhaps too much so for its own good.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
It's a half-success -- a baldly conceptual response to the Leo Tolstoy novel, with a heavy theatrical framework placed around the narrative of girl meets boy, followed by girl meets train.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
Without Tolsoy's profound interior narration, Anna Karenina is just a soap opera, and for some reason director Joe Wright has decided to compound this problem with deliberate, showy artifice.
J. R. Jones - Chicago Reader
It's hard not to admire Wright's bold approach to Anna Karenina's story of longing and jealousy and societal condemnation.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
"Anna Karenina," lush as it is, fails to strike a fully human chord.
Tom Long - Detroit News
Knightley and Law are what salvage Wright's interesting stab at something different, taking an interesting, if flawed, experiment and turning it into something better than it probably ought to be.
Bill Goodykoontz - Arizona Republic
James Joyce once wrote that [Tolstoy] was "never dull, never stupid, never tired, pedantic or theatrical." He might change his mind if he saw Anna Karenina.
Rex Reed - New York Observer
Eschewing the classical realism that's characterized most adaptations of Tolstoy's source novel, helmer Joe Wright makes the generally inspired decision to stylize his dark, expressionist take on Anna Karenina.
Leslie Felperin - Variety
A handsome, grandly theatrical reimagining of the Tolstoy novel starring his muse, Keira Knightley.
Lou Lumenick - New York Post
The very picture of noble failure, it's a bright red heart without a beat.
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
Solid visual moments aren't enough to sustain an audience, and Joe Wright's style isn't enough to salvage gaping wounds in the story.
Laremy Legel - Film.com
In this adaptation, director Joe Wright, plus screenwriter Tom Stoppard, are determined to tame the untameable. And they do.
Rick Groen - Globe and Mail
A furiously ambitious literary adaptation, the best of Wright and Knightley's careers, that tries to make us feel the intense sexuality and terror and grief of a classic novel ...
Andrew O'Hehir - Salon.com
As a one-time devotee of Russian literature, I was suitably diverted and occasionally impressed. Your mileage may vary.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
The weight of its intellectual distancing device presses much of the life and feeling out of Joe Wright's and Tom Stoppard's adventurous adaptation of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.
Todd McCarthy - Hollywood Reporter
Wondrous as all this artifice is, it's also a huge distraction. The self-consciousness of the structure keeps us at arm's length emotionally.
Christy Lemire - Associated Press
Knightley embodies Anna as a girlish woman who has never felt erotic love; once smitten, she is raised to heavenly ecstasy before tumbling into the abyss of shame.
Richard Corliss - TIME Magazine
This story has been filmed many times, but never with this kind of erotic charge. Knightley is glorious. My advice is to let Wright's Anna Karenina work its strange and marvelous spell.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
All dressed up with no place to go.
Betsy Sharkey - Los Angeles Times
The film does not do even minimal justice to the themes informing the tragedy.
Dan Jardine - Cinemania
A whirlwind affair composed of dazzling set pieces and a driving narrative.
Wesley Lovell - Cinema Sight
Tolstoy's novel rendered in exquisite Faberge egg form.
Catherine Bray - Film4
While there are suitably glorious elements, there's also a frankly bizarre and much-debated aspect added by playwright Tom Stoppard, so that the whole thing is full of 'Brechtian Alienation Devices' and narrative-splintering tricks.
David 'Mad Dog' Bradley - Rip It Up
It's easy to conclude that this Anna Karenina is a superficial portrait of a superficial society, but that would be to dismiss how emotionally powerful it is in key moments.
Rima Sabina Aouf - Concrete Playground
There have been countless film and tv versions of Russian author Leo Tolstoy's classic high society love story. But none have been captured so beautifully and boldly as this Anna Karenina.
Brian Henry Martin - UTV
a visually unique story world, bold and beautiful, and dramatically fused with passion. Yet it's also a limited space that remains prisoner to its self-conscious theatrical structures.
Simon Weaving - Screenwize
Between the screenplay by playwright Tom Stoppard and the direction of Joe Wright, Anna Karenina is a stylistically fascinating film.
Tim Martain - The Mercury
Leo Tolstoy's classic tale of doomed romance and the emotionally stifling lives of Russian aristocrats gets an ornate, inert reworking...the congested setting makes much of the film look like a blur of costumes and set dressing.
Jim Schembri - 3AW
Joe Wright uses the theatre and has the actors taking part in a stage production which then moves out into the real world. I think that's done beautifully.
David Stratton - At the Movies (Australia)
Well, Joe Wright has done it. His ANNA KARENINA is a triumph.
Margaret Pomeranz - At the Movies (Australia)
Trying to one-up Tolstoy was always going to be a bad idea, though I wouldn't object to seeing a Bond movie, or Les Miserables, staged in the same way.
Jake Wilson - The Age (Australia)
Wright's staged version tries desperately to gain one's attention (which it does) and engage one's affection (which it doesn't).
Ed Gibbs - The Sun Herald
Wright's vision in re-imagining this classic tale is conceptually brilliant, with a perpetual sense of motion... a visual and emotional statement
Louise Keller - Urban Cinefile
Wright's edgy, bravura approach actually enhances the moral themes and the social context, illuminating the story in a fresh, contemporary light. This is cinema
Andrew L. Urban - Urban Cinefile
Anna Karenina plays like the ultimate CliffsNotes, which is both testament to Stoppard's exceptional adaptation and abridgement of Tolstoy's novel and acknowledgment of the film's somewhat superficial center.
Mark Pfeiffer - Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
Like its central character, this is beautiful and brave even if it fails to fully realise its potential.
Amber Wilkinson - Eye for Film
Knightley has a rare gift for making viewers willing to follow her characters even as they make catastrophically stupid decisions.
Dan Lybarger - KC Active
Passion overwhelmed by heavily stylised theatrics.
Don Groves - sbs.com.au
The end result remains quixotically affecting, and more than the sum of its many delirious parts.
Rob Humanick - Projection Booth
One of those lovely, nomination-gleaning period pieces that some simply adore. It's got a playful and unique style to it that transcends the charge of it being yet another costume drama.
Jason Gorber - Twitch
A clever and gorgeous-looking adaptation of the great novel which intricately combines theater and cinema.
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
Again and again, Anna is bereft, isolated, frightened. That this is more a function of her world than her is a point left to fester: she believes it's them, and then she believes them, that it's her.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
An updated, streamlined version of the Tolstoy classic will appeal to a younger demographic while the oldsters will stick to reading the book.
Ron Wilkinson - Monsters and Critics
That train couldn't come fast enough.
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
It breathes new life into Tolstoy's characters and reignites the passion that generations of readers have felt for them.
Sean Means - Salt Lake Tribune
A sumptuous cinematic feast!
Kam Williams - AALBC.com
It would be unfair to, ahem, throw the whole movie under the train because of one casting error and a few ill-advised directorial choices.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
(Director Joe) Wright's cinematic choices, unfortunately, keep viewers at arm's length instead of drawing them into the story.
Bob Bloom - Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
It's hard to argue that tackling this story again was necessary, and this version can't be called definitive or revelatory. However, Wright has done an admirable job of investing this tale that's more than a century old with a modern sensibility.
Perry Seibert - TV Guide's Movie Guide
Where we ought to see a soul-freezing sense of paralysis, followed by a torrent of passion for an inappropriate man, we get a generalized kind of melancholy and neediness suited to Real Housewives of St. Petersburg.
Lawrence Toppman - Charlotte Observer
Director Joe Wright's Anna Karenina is a work of art -- technically brilliant, lavishly filmed and visually stunning.
Charles Ealy - Austin American-Statesman
Like a modern music video, it's more about the look and image than it is about the substance behind all of that. Wright gets swept up in his own visual romance.
Kevin Carr - 7M Pictures
The actors' passion overrules the filmmakers' artifice.
John Wirt - Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
Parse too closely the space between "neat" and "conceptual" and "trick," and there's little emotional truck to all the elaborate conceit.
Kimberley Jones - Austin Chronicle
Joe Wright's sweeping, dance-of-love adaptation of Anna Karenina is one of the most inventive, visually lush films of the year.
Clint O'Connor - Cleveland Plain Dealer
...dazzling early on, but as the film reaches the mid-point, the highly stylized staging gimmick begins to wan. Still, like "Cloud Atlas" early this year, the attempts to craft a unique and interesting visual are to be lauded and encouraged.
Jonathan W. Hickman - Daily Film Fix
Director Joe Wright's undeniably fresh approach helps smooth the wrinkles in a film that suffers from uneven storytelling.
Mike Scott - Times-Picayune
Joe Wright, reuniting with his Pride & Prejudice and Atonement leading lady Keira Knightley, has found a fresh take, shooting Tom Stoppard's script with a metaphoric and highly stylized theatricality.
Annlee Ellingson - Paste Magazine
Ostentatious but basically inoffensive.
Kelly Vance - East Bay Express
Knocking some stuffiness out of Leo Tolstoy's lit-class hurdle, Wright atones for previously turning theaters into staid libraries.... replaced by a creative tack that's fairly exciting until the novelty wears off.
Steve Persall - Tampa Bay Times
What Tolstoy continues to teach us, and what Wright captures so beautifully in his movie, is how love and desire force one to act in ways others cannot understand.
Steve Ramos - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Presents Tolstoy's creation as a passionate love story with great costumes.
Liz Braun - Jam! Movies
Stoppard's touches serve only to pull the viewer away from the story and act as a distraction.
Mark R. Leeper - Mark Leeper's Reviews
If it's only a play, why should we care?
Ann Lewinson - Kansas City Star
Unless I miss my guess, this is the first motion picture in which a director uses eye-poppingly bizarro visuals to distract his audience while he sneaks it a dose of art.
Rick Kisonak - Film Threat
A glorious feast of a movie that is unlike anything else you will see this year.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
While the framing device and Wright's style differentiates this slightly from the usual mix of corsets, longing looks and stilted period dialogue, we're still left with a mix of corsets, longing looks and stilted period dialogue.
Stephen Carty - Flix Capacitor
Suffers from that most appealing and rarest of flaws: too much ambition.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
Stoppard wisely keeps intact Tolstoy's great dialogue.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
A dazzling looking, amazingly adaptable theater transforms into. . . a busy eyeful of sturm und drang, where the gentler love story of Kitty and Levin outshines the tragedy.
Nora Lee Mandel - Film-Forward.com
There's no getting around the fact that Johnson is disastrous.
Josh Larsen - LarsenOnFilm
Sports some good performances and is nice to look at at times, but it's ultimately both spectacularly ill-conceived and deathly boring.
Stephen Silver - EntertainmentTell
Despite its creativity and originality, this 'Anna Karenina' fails to pack the emotional wallop of previous film adaptations starring Greta Garbo and Vivien Leigh.
Betty Jo Tucker - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
The theatrical artificiality constantly upstages the Tolstoy tragedy, which turns this production into an endlessly annoying experimental film.
Phil Hall - Film Threat
Stoppard and Wright's version is rich with artifice
Robert Denerstein - Movie Habit
I found it extremely difficult to become emotionally invested because the style kept intruding, pulling me out of Anna's journey and making me concentrate on the filmmaking choices.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
There is a freshness and daring to Anna Karenina, which is something that probably hasn't been said in a good 100 years.
Mathew DeKinder - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The film thrusts Wright into the role of puppeteer and tries to turn Anna into some sort of contemporary feminist heroine.
Todd Jorgenson - Cinemalogue.com
Stoppard and Wright have demonstrated that Anna's saga has lost none of its power.
Marc Mohan - Oregonian
The clever camera moves and inventive uses of stagecraft feel like sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
A beautiful production and strong performances by Law and Knightley
Diana Saenger - ReviewExpress.com
Even more than most versions of "Anna Karenina," this chamber piece is heated by two combustible characters, not by the winds of war and peace.
Joe Williams - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The movie's still gorgeous, but Anna's great tragedy, condensed and accelerated and enacted underneath the visible ropes and pullies of the stage, never attains its power.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
Who's for 130 minutes of alienation?...We're able to intellectualize why we should care (those social strictures are crushing hearts!), but we're too distracted to be moved.
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
I admire the film's ambition, but I can't fully recommend it. Sorry. I need some characters that I can care about. But it's almost worth seeing for the film's unique style.
Austin Kennedy - Film Geek Central
This multilayered movie is not your average Tolstoy adaptation.
Rafer Guzman - Newsday
You don't merely watch Joe Wright's sumptuous "Anna Karenina," but you waltz with it, run with it, whirl with it.
Moira MacDonald - Seattle Times
Visually stunning but emotionally vapid...a one-trick pony that reduces the tragic dimension of its source to an ornate soap operatic bauble.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
It's an incredible thing to behold, at least at the start.
Alison Willmore - Movieline
For "Anna Karenina" to truly work, you have to look at this two and think, what a tragedy. Instead you look at Anna and think, what a fool.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
Daring staging and a great story make this adaptation the movie to beat this Oscar season.
Rebecca Cusey - Patheos
Fans of Wright's "Pride & Prejudice" may not be quite as enthralled with this production, but there is no denying: "Anna Karenina" is a lavish and satisfying spectacle.
David Kaplan - Kaplan vs. Kaplan
An oddly Baz Luhrmann-like take.
James Verniere - Boston Herald
Costume and period sets are stunning as is the skilled cinematography, particularly during the elaborate scene and costume transitions early on. Unfortunately, the characters are less than fully developed...
Robin Clifford - Reeling Reviews
The overpowering momentum perpetuated by this virtuoso camerawork makes it difficult to focus on anything else.
William Bibbiani - CraveOnline
The silly setting substantially diminished the enjoyability of an entertaining film with a fine script and terrific acting. Too bad that Wright didn't have enough confidence in the story and his talent to tell it straight up.
Tony Medley - Tolucan Times
Often deliberately arch and formal, the performers have been instructed to emphasize the overwrought theatricality of Anna's disapproving social set. What doesn't emerge is Anna's passion. Panic is more like it.
Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor
The costumes are wonderful, the production design is exquisite, and the score is similarly Oscar worthy. I just wish the story hooked me more than it did. (Full Content Review for Parents also available)
Jim Judy - Screen It!
A perfect, and dare one say it, playful vehicle for Keira Knightley, who always brings a chest-heaving sexuality to such period pieces...
Roger Moore - McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Wright's rendition of Anna Karenina is indeed flawed but the rich performances, succinct screenwriting, and strong direction make it a re-interpretation worth seeing.
Sandy Schaefer - ScreenRant
Stylized retelling of Tolstoy classic best for older teens.
S. Jhoanna Robledo - Common Sense Media
Anna Karenina is beautiful to look at, but mostly unengaging -- a film that's more enamored with its own technique that it is with Tolstoy's story.
Ethan Alter - Television Without Pity
Knightley will be a forerunner for an Oscar. She is astounding as Anna.
Jeanne Kaplan - Kaplan vs. Kaplan
What Wright has made here is a musical without songs.
Ian Buckwalter - The Washingtonian
The leading man preens and puffs himself up but never gives us reason to empathize with him.
Leonard Maltin - Leonard Maltin's Picks
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.
Ella Taylor - NPR
Director Joe Wright and his favorite star, Kiera Knightley have produced a ravishing, highly theatrical version of Leo Tolstoy's classic.
Nell Minow - Beliefnet
There's no deadlier sort of movie than a stodgy literary adaptation. Thankfully, Joe Wright seems incapable of making one.
Keith Phipps - AV Club
The novel features one of the most famous endings in history, and Anna Karenina has a sense of propulsion that matches the instrument of that tragedy.
Mark Dujsik - Mark Reviews Movies
The conceptual gimmickry eclipses everything else, including a typically sharp script from Tom Stoppard and the earnest efforts of well-dressed Brits playing well-dressed Russians.
A.A. Dowd - Time Out Chicago
Breaking down the walls - literally - Wright has served up a silver screen stunner. Cue the standing ovation.
Erick Weber - NECN
Wright made the movie he wanted to make, and he made it well. It just wasn't worth making.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
... we have a lot to look forward to from [Joe Wright] in years to come, and here's hoping audiences get lost in this lovely, painful romantic fever dream.
Drew McWeeny - HitFix
Maybe it's time to focus on coming up with new classics instead of constantly returning to the old ones?
Matt Pais - RedEye
While I remain convinced of Wright's directorial gifts, Anna Karenina represents his first real misfire as a filmmaker, sweating to create a swirling show of blinding artistry, when all it really needed was a point of entry.
Brian Orndorf - Blu-ray.com
Director Joe Wright pulls off an impressive feat, taking the iconic, timeless work and making it his own.
Robert Levin - amNewYork
It speaks volumes that "Anna Karenina's" set up is far more engaging than its tragic melodrama, which fails to engage emotionally. Still, until it falters, the imagination used in this production is something to behold.
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
Though it distracts from the realism that makes the novel so immersive, the artificiality does highlight the most genuine aspect of the movie - the performances.
Peter Keough - Boston Phoenix
Joe Wright's frenetic and daringly stagy adaptation unleashes the passions of Tolstoy's novel with a delicious abandon.
Chris Barsanti - Film Journal International
Knightley and Taylor-Johnson are so passionless they might was well be animatronic. The theatrical conceit is more stunt than inspiration, the film cold as a Russian winter.
Caryn James - James on screenS
A sweepingly romantic film, one that earns its tragic climax without stinting on the richness of the source material.
Marshall Fine - Hollywood & Fine
We have expectations of what to expect from period romances. Anna Karenina defies them. Masterpiece Theater it is not.
Matt Patches - Hollywood.com
It never feels like we're watching people pressed on by the burdens of society and history, just extravagantly costumed puppets navigating Wright's colorfully shallow bag of tricks.
Keith Uhlich - Time Out New York
Some may have an allergy to Wright's interior aesthetic that can't be explained away. That's valid, I suppose, but one must ask just how many times we need to see the classics done up in Merchant-Ivory clothes?
Jordan Hoffman - ScreenCrush
A bold and borderline insane adaptation that anoints Joe Wright as a modern filmmaker who reveres the old guard
David Ehrlich - Boxoffice Magazine
Anna Karenina is a massive, boldly imagined work, the rare novel adaptation that's purely, thrillingly cinematic.
Katey Rich - CinemaBlend.com
[VIDEO ESSAY] "Anna Karenina" shows all.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
The film contains far more passion and a tad more complexity than the dominant and typically more staid model of middlebrow costume drama.
Andrew Schenker - Slant Magazine
A fresh version of the classic romantic drama, set on a theater stage, that explores the choices people make for passion.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
Eye candy lacking soul.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
Playwright Stoppard and director Wright make a valiant but unsuccessful effort to modernize the classic, resulting in film that lacks emotional power and peformance by Knightley that doesn't begin to oompare with Garbo's or Vivien Leigh's.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
Intellectual, overwrought and highly stylized, it's a superficial spectacle, providing a feast for the eyes but starvation for the soul.
Susan Granger - SSG Syndicate
We are left with an entertaining but hollow story filled with entertaining but hollow characters.
Nick Deigman - Fan The Fire
High time this play closed.
Ed Whitfield - The Ooh Tray
This isn't an Anna Karenina that will leave you sobbing, but thanks to virtuosic camerawork, sumptuous costumes and stunning designs, Joe Wright's film should none the less have you reeling in admiration.
Jason Best - Movie Talk
Tolstoy's iconic novel may have been filmed several times, but you've never seen a version like this
Rich Cline - Contactmusic.com
Anna Karenina is a beautiful, unique and ambitious vision that is crowned by some spectacular performances with Keira Knightley and Jude Law really standing out.
Will Chadwick - We Got This Covered