While it’s extremely colorful, this update of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel tries way too hard to reinvent a perfectly good wheel. Director Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice
) gives Anna Karenina
a much-unneeded facelift, soaking the story in more style than it knows what to do with. The performances by Keira Knightley and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (as Anna and Count Vronsky, respectively) are forced to extreme ends of the spectrum thanks to Wright’s fussing, which places more of an emphasis on how he envisions the world in which the story takes place, and less of an emphasis on the story itself. All in all, this is just a handsome mistake. There’s not enough that’s new, and Wright’s gimmicks generally subtract from what makes Anna Karenina
such a great story to begin with.