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Anna Karenina (2012)
Anna Karenina poster
Directed by Joe Wright
Produced by Tim Bevan
Eric Fellner
Paul Webster
Starring

Keira Knightley
Jude Law
Aaron Johnson
Kelly Macdonald
Matthew Macfayden
Domhnall Gleeson
Ruth Wilson
Alicia Vikander
Olivia Williams
Emily Watson

Music by Dario Marianelli
Cinematography Seamus McGarvey
Editing by Melanie Ann Oliver
Distributed by Focus Features
Release 7 September 2012
Running time 130 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget £31 million
Gross revenue £42,609,381

Anna Karenina is a 2012 British epic romantic drama film directed by Joe Wright. Adapted by Tom Stoppard from Leo Tolstoy's 1877 novel of the same name, the film depicts the tragedy of Russian aristocrat and socialite Anna Karenina, wife of senior statesman Alexei Karenin, and her affair with the affluent officer Count Vronsky which leads to her ultimate demise. Keira Knightley stars in the lead role as Karenina, marking her third collaboration with Wright following both Pride & Prejudice (2005) and Atonement (2007), while Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson appear as Karenin and Vronsky, respectively. Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander appear in key supporting roles.

Produced by Working Title Films in association with StudioCanal, the film premiered at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival. It was released on 7 September 2012 in the United Kingdom and Ireland and on 9 November 2012 in the United States. Anna Karenina earned a worldwide gross of approximately $69 million, mostly from its international run, which was considered a mediocre but decent commercial speciality success. It earned a rating of 64 percent from review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, labelling it generally favourable. Critics praised the cast and commented on and criticised the heavily stylised adaptation, but were less enthusiastic with Wright's preference for style over substance and his idea of setting most of the action on a theatre stage.

It earned four nominations at the 85th Academy Awards and six nominations at the 66th British Academy Film Awards, winning Jacqueline Durran both prizes for Best Costume Design. In addition, Anna Karenina garnered six nominations at the 17th Satellite Awards, including a Best Actress nod for Knightley and Best Adapted Screenplay for Stoppard.

Plot

In 1874 Imperial Russia, Prince Stepan "Stiva" Oblonsky's wife, Princess Daria "Dolly" catches him cheating with their governess. She banishes him from their home. Stiva's sister, Anna Karenina, journeys to Moscow to convince Dolly to forgive him. Anna is a wealthy, well-liked socialite who lives in St. Petersburg with her elder statesman husband Alexei Karenin, and their son, Seryozha.

Meanwhile, Stiva meets his old friend Konstantin Dimitrivich Levin, a wealthy land owner in the country, who is looked down on by Moscow's elite because of his disinterest in living in the city. Levin professes his love for Stiva's sister-in-law, Katerina "Kitty" Alexandrovna Shcherbatsky, and Stiva encourages him to propose. However, Kitty declines as she hopes to marry Count Alexei Vronsky. Later, Levin meets up with his elder brother Nikolai, who has given up his inheritance. Nikolai lives with a prostitute named Masha whom he has taken as his wife and suggests to Levin that he should marry one of the peasants on his estate.

On the train to Moscow, Anna meets Vronsky's mother, Countess Vronskaya, a well-known adulteress. Once in Moscow, Anna meets Vronsky himself, and they have an immediate and mutual attraction. As they leave, a railroad worker is caught beneath the tracks and violently killed. Vronsky gives money to the man's family.

Anna convinces Dolly to take Stiva back. At a ball that night, Kitty attempts to dance with Vronsky, but he dances with Anna. Their dancing is noticed by everyone, including Kitty. Anna leaves the ball. Anna boards a train to St. Petersburg, but at a rest stop notices Vronsky, who declares that he must be where she is at every moment. She tells him to go back to Moscow, but he refuses.

In St. Petersburg, Vronsky visits his cousin Princess Betsy Tverskaya, who is friends with the Karenins. He begins to show up at all the places Anna and Betsy visit. During a party, Vronsky flirts openly with Anna, which catches Karenin's attention. He suggests they go home, but Anna stays. Vronsky threatens to take a promotion in another city but Anna asks him to stay. The following day, she and Vronsky meet at a hotel and make love.

Back at Levin's country estate, Stiva visits, where he tells Levin that Kitty and Vronsky are no longer getting married. Levin focuses on living an authentic country life. He plows his fields with his workers and has thoughts of taking one of his workers' daughters as his wife, as his brother had suggested.

Karenin hears that both his wife and Vronsky are in the country and surprises her there at his country estate. Anna reveals to Vronsky that she is pregnant. She later encounters Karenin who suggests he join her for the horse races that evening. The races begin, and Anna shows her feelings for Vronsky when his horse collapses and injures him. On their way home Anna confesses to Karenin that she is Vronsky's mistress and wishes to divorce him. Karenin refuses and instead confines her to their house.

Levin sees Kitty in a passing carriage and returns to Moscow to ask her again to marry him. Anna receives Vronsky at her house in St. Petersburg and curses him for not coming to her sooner. Vronsky replies that he was doing his duties as an officer. Karenin comes back home to find out that Vronsky has been visiting Anna. He searches her desk and finds love letters. Meanwhile, Levin and Kitty are reunited at the Oblonsky house. Karenin arrives to announce he is divorcing Anna. Anna begs Karenin to forgive her, but Karenin refuses. After dinner, Levin and Kitty confess their love and decide to marry.

Anna goes into premature labour. As she lies apparently dying, she confesses her sins before God. Vronsky is at her side, and she berates him and tells him that he could never be the man Karenin is. Her husband begs for her forgiveness, which she grants him. The next day Vronsky leaves at the request of Karenin, who forms an attachment to Anna's baby, Anya. Princess Betsy calls on Anna and discusses with her what will happen to Vronsky now that he has gone back to Moscow. Anna tells Betsy to tell Karenin everything as well. Karenin assures Anna that they could be happy again, but she only wants Vronsky. Karenin still does not agree to a divorce but releases Anna from her confinement. She and Vronsky soon leave for a trip to Italy with little Anya.

Levin and Kitty return to the country estate. The sick Nikolai and his wife are also nearby. Kitty asks that the two join them on the estate so she can nurse Nikolai.

Anna returns to St. Petersburg to see Seryozha, but Karenin makes her leave after a short time. Anna also starts to believe that Vronsky is cheating on her. She later attends the opera. The attendees treat her with disgust. She is humiliated, but retains her poise, just to break down once back at her hotel. The next day Anna has lunch at a restaurant where the society women avoid her. Dolly joins her and tells her that Kitty is in Moscow to have her first child. Dolly says that Stiva's behaviour has not changed, but she has to come to accept and love him for who he is.

Later, Vronsky informs Anna that he must meet with his mother one last time to settle some accounts, but when Anna sees Princess Sorokina picking him up, she becomes very upset. She drinks more laudanum and goes by train to see if Vronsky is truly with his mother. On the way, she has hallucinations of Vronsky and Princess Sorokina making love, and laughing about her. At the last station, Anna says to herself, "God forgive me!" as she jumps under an oncoming train, which kills her. Her corpse is then seen lying on the track.

Levin returns home to find Kitty bathing their child. Oblonsky and his family eat with Levin and Kitty, and Oblonsky goes outside and lights a cigarette. Karenin is seen to be retired from public duties, with Seryozha and young Anya playing nearby.

Cast

  • Keira Knightley as Anna Arkadievna Karenina
  • Jude Law as Count Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, a senior statesman and Anna's husband
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky, lover of Anna, a cavalry office
  • Matthew Macfadyen as Prince Stepan "Stiva" Arkadyevich Oblonsky, Anna's brother, a civil servant
  • Kelly Macdonald as Darya "Dolly" Alexandrovna Oblonskaya, Stiva's wife
  • Alicia Vikander as Princess Ekaterina "Kitty" Alexandrovna Shcherbatskaya, Dolly's younger sister
  • Domhnall Gleeson as Konstantin "Kostya" Dmitrievich Levin, a landowner and friend of Stiva
  • Olivia Williams as Countess Vronskaya, Vronsky's mother
  • Ruth Wilson as Princess Elizaveta "Betsy, Vronsky's cousin
  • Emily Watson as Countess Lidia Ivanovna, leader of a high society circle that includes Karenin
  • Michelle Dockery as Princess Myagkaya, a friend of Anna
  • Raphaël Personnaz as Count Alexander Kirillovich Vronsky, Alexei's brother
  • Max Bennett as Petritsky
  • Holliday Grainger as The Baroness
  • Shirley Henderson as Meme Kartasov
  • Bill Skarsgård as Captain Machouten
  • Cara Delevingne as Princess Sorokina
  • Alexandra Roach as Countess Marie Nordston
  • Thomas Howes as Yashvin
  • Tannishtha Chatterjee as Masha

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