Knightly, teamed again with her director from 2005's Pride & Prejudice, definitely looks the part, but there are moments when she looks like she's part of the world's longest photo shoot. In a rather limited role as the scorned husband who struggles to forgive Anna, Law fares much better because you ultimately forget it’s him altogether.

Still, it was going to take a lot more than great acting to elevate Anna Karenina from being all style and little substance. As wondrous as everything is on the surface, it’s basically as hollow as one of those chalky chocolate bunnies on Easter. If you choose to go out of curiosity at the plot device or for the opulence of the scenery, keep your expectations low.

CAUTIONS:

  • Violence: A close-up of a bloodied, badly hurt corpse. Some fighting. A character commits suicide.
  • Language/Profanity: A couple of milder profanities like as- and da--, but very little in the way of profanity, especially for an R-rated film.
  • Sex/Nudity: Women are referred to as sluts and whores on several occasions, and adultery is practically a character in the film. Plenty of discussion of infidelity, and the implications on various characters’ marriages. We see Anna and Count Vronsky in the throes of lovemaking on several occasions. Shot in a dream-like way, we don’t see much but kissing and embracing, but their expressions add plenty of realism to the proceedings. There’s also a scene where we see Vronsky’s backside while cuddling with Anna. A shot of a rather odd looking contraception device.
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking and occasional public drunkenness depicted. Some smoking.
  • Religion: Karenin is adamant about taking marriage vows seriously, that breaking them is sinning against God. There’s an ongoing theme about forgiving your spouse, even if they cheat, which is something Karenin struggles with.

Christa Banister is an author and full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

Publication date: November 16, 2012