It's a play, it's a movie, it's a . . . Ok, I was a confused when the film started. Full disclosure, I never made it through Tolstoy's novel Anna Karenina, much less, War and Peace. Well, honestly, I never picked up either one.
Anna Karenina takes place in Tsarist Russia with all the beauty of the architecture, costumes, and customs of those times - only in the elite circles. The movie starts on a stage with the opening credits and then when I thought there was a play on that stage, the audience was watching, I realized that the "play" was the movie and the props moved to reveal a new scene and the characters moved seamlessly with dialogue sometimes even changing costumes while talking. Then when I was thoroughly confused, it started resembling a movie.
Of course, anytime a character wanted to reflect on what was going on or view a scene they were not in, they simple climbed a ladder or wooden stairs to the cat walks above the stage and from above among the ropes and lights, they could become voyeurs, like those of us in the theater. But, not for long, because that genre would soon disappear and the film would lapse once again into a traditional movie.
Confused? I was. But it works, as long as you are willing to go with the flow. The costumes of the film are glamorous as was era, the scenery divine - the exotic land of Russia, and who else, but only Kiera Knightley could play the role of Anna. And, just when the story is moving along, suddenly, I found myself once again lost between a film and a stage play.
Anna Karenina (129 minutes) is an excellent film, a little advant in its delivery. Perhaps, Tolstoy would be proud that his story was too much for an ordinary film genre. Whatever! It is a large story that probably needed something to set it apart. And, Joe Wright, the Academy Award winning Director did just that - set the story apart.