Anna Karenina | 2012 | R | - 6.6.3
A 19th century aristocrat in tsarist Russia (Keira Knightley) is bored with her privileged life with her husband (Jude Law) and young son, so she delves into a passionate affair with an exciting but vapid cavalryman (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). But as she becomes the center of society gossip, she turns emotionally volatile and paranoid, struggling with jealousy. Also with Kelly Macdonald, Matthew Macfadyen, Domhnall Gleeson, Emily Watson and Shirley Henderson. Directed by Joe Wright. [2:10]
- A prolonged sex scene in close-up features a sequence of a man and a woman kissing and gasping as we see glimpses of their bared bodies (the man's bare back and arms and the woman's bare shoulders, a foot and a knee, are shown in a glowing light); we then see the woman's neck, face and bared arms raised above her head as she lies on a bed and the man's face, neck and bare shoulders as the scene ends. A scene shot from above a bed features a sleeping man and a woman in a tangled embrace, revealing his bared side and a bared buttock.
► A woman says to her male lover, "You're sharing whores with your colonel," and he denies this and over several days she accuses him of having affairs with many women of all ages, which he also denies; while sitting on a train alone, the woman imagines her lover and another woman having sex (we see the couple in a seated position with her straddling his lap and he is bare-chested and she is wearing a white under-blouse that bares her arms and throat and they thrust as they kiss).
► A woman refuses a marriage offer because she is in love with another man, who is not in love with her but with a married woman; the married woman and the man dance every dance at a grand ball together, while the first woman dances with several men and boys, staring angrily at the married woman and crying (the dance style includes the men touching the women's bare collarbones and bare upper arms while the women push against the men's chests once in each dance).
► A married woman tells her lover that she is pregnant; he says they can be together now and she replies that her husband will give her a divorce but retain custody of their son. A married woman and a slightly younger man see each other for the first time and stare at each other with interest; they repeat the gaze in several other public places before they are formally introduced.
► Two scenes feature a wet nurse sitting on a chair in a medium-length shot, with one breast bared while nursing an infant whose mouth covers the nipple. Three scenes depict either of two women wearing long dresses covering extremely swollen bellies and hear that both are pregnant. Dozens of scenes feature women wearing long gowns that are sleeveless and deeply cut in the front and back, showing cleavage. A woman wears a low-cut dress that reveals her bare shoulders and back to the waist. A woman wears a scoop neck, sleeveless under-blouse that reveals cleavage and a knee length underskirt, beneath which we see long white bloomers and opaque stockings. Six women on a stage are dressed in underclothing (long white bloomers and opaque stockings) with wide frilly skirts dance and lift their skirts in a Can-Can number (we see garters and sashes around baggy bloomer legs). A woman wearing undergarments with a multiple hoop and bustle framework over her bloomers puts on a long gown that reveals cleavage. A man is shown wearing an overcoat and underneath we see his bare chest. In a farmhouse bedroom, we see two women sponge bathe a sick man and we see his chest (his abdomen and groin areas are covered by a sheet).
► A husband forbids his wife from seeing her lover again, but she runs to a maze made of tall hedges and finds her lover, whom she embraces from behind and we later see the woman tell her husband, "I'm his wife now and I'm having his child" (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details); her husband becomes silent and walks out of the room. A man warns his wife that if she is having an affair, she must be discreet, avoid gossip and protect his government job with her discretion; she denies the affair at first, and then says, "It's true. I love him. I am his mistress."
► A man tells a male friend that he committed adultery with his children's governess and apologized to his wife unsuccessfully. A wife, whose husband had an affair with their children's governess, cries loudly and complains that men all commit adultery and that as a wife who has done nothing wrong, she must suffer. A woman tells another woman whose husband was unfaithful, "The affair is the animal in man, not the soul." A married man tells a male friend that wives become fat and their hair thins, making them less and less attractive. A man says with a blank expression that he loves his wife to distraction. Women at parties mention an officer to a woman in passing gossip and the woman giggles several times. A man tells his brother at home that he took his life partner, an Indian woman, from a brothel to live as his wife and if this is offensive, then his brother can leave. A farmer states at a dinner with friends, "Sensual pleasure for its own sake is sin. We might as well all be cattle," and others laugh.
► In a theater scene, three men wear Russian headscarves and pretend to be wives seeing their three husbands off to the office one morning.
- A railroad worker covered completely in black coal soot startles a woman as she walks near him on the train platform (the train is also black and she sees his eyes suddenly, gasps and walks away) and after several seconds the train moves away and we hear that there is an accident; we see the body of the railroad worker, crushed in the midsection under the train wheels and his upper body and arms are visible and sticking out from a wheel and toward the platform, while his legs are tangled and slightly visible to the other side of the wheel (we see no blood).
► A husband goes to visit his mother and is accompanied by a young woman, while we see the man's wife sitting on a train and looking at the window beside her seat (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details), and she steps off the train at a stop, walks across the platform while crying silently, she stops at the edge of the track and jumps under the wheels of a passing locomotive; the camera cuts to a scene of her from the waist-up, lying face-up on the tracks with staring eyes and a trickle of blood extending down her forehead and cheek to the chin.
► A horse race occurs in part on a theater stage and in part on a dirt racetrack at night with the scene alternating back and forth and finally a horse and rider fall off the stage onto the floor in front of the audience (the horse and rider are both shown writhing in pain) and a woman stands and screams the name of the male rider; the rider stands up and kicks the horse several times in the abdomen as it writhes on the floor, while another man says the horse has a broken back as we see a close-up of the horse's eye (the camera cuts to the rider, who pulls a pistol and shoots the horse below the frame as the scene ends and we hear the shot).
► An angry husband knocks his visibly pregnant wife down and she falls onto the floor, crying as the scene ends.
► A barber whips a large red cloth around like a bullfighter and covers up a bearded man for a shave; the barber, in close-up, sharpens a blade and whips it with whooshing noises below the shot quickly three times, and the camera cuts to the customer, clean-shaven as the barber massages his face roughly and cracks his neck with a loud crunch. A hunting scene depicts two men firing rifles and a dog runs into the field. Farmers sharpen their very long scythe blades in close-up and they work in a line cutting grain down in a large field in a couple of scenes. A man in his home points a fencing foil at a male visitor in jest and moving away in the large room, shadow-fences for practice.
► Three couples each argue about what each partner wants in marriage: One couple argues several times over a few months, escalating in anger with the husband telling his wife that marriage can only be dissolved by a crime against God and she disagrees; they finally divorce after arguing about child custody and possessions. A woman stalks into her ex-husband's house angrily, demanding that servants get out of her way, and says hello to her young son on his birthday; when her ex-husband appears, she walks past him and out of the house without speaking. A woman becomes more and more histrionic as time passes, accusing her lover of things he has not done and picking fights with him.
► A woman says that she will die while having a baby: we see her face and throat as she lies under thick covers in a bed and her estranged husband receives a note that she is dying, tears it up, but goes to see her, where a doctor tells him the woman has a fever; another man stands in the shadows of the room, weeping and we then see the husband and the man in the shadows speaking and we understand that the second man is the baby's father and the husband forgives him, whereupon the other man cries loudly and falls into the husband's arms.
► In a farmhouse, a woman takes a basin of hot water and towels into the bedroom of her sick bother-in-law where she and the sick man's wife sponge bathe him and we later see him fully recovered. A man sits at his desk, coughing from illness. A woman shouts at her husband and cries for him to stop cracking his knuckles, which he just did, loudly and in close-up. A man at a house party blows his nose loudly, attracting attention briefly.
► At an opera the entire audience turns around and in freeze frame, and stares at a woman that left her husband; the scene unfreezes and women begin to whisper inaudibly and point at the woman, who stares at a man across the room who's staring back at her (both use opera glasses to stare).
- 4 mild obscenities, name-calling (fool, idiotic, vile, murderer, laughing stock), stereotypical references to men, women, mistresses, the aristocracy, society gossips, matchmakers, farmers, peasants, rail workers, Christians, Gypsies, Jews, Indians, 2 religious profanities, 5 religious exclamations.
- A glass of wine sits untouched on a table in a train compartment and a bottle of wine sits untouched at a picnic, several home dinner scenes include glasses of wine at dinner tables and a few men drink from the glasses, a man sits at his desk and drinks vodka while pouring a glass for his brother who arrives shortly thereafter (he does not drink), army officers drink vodka together at a party and in a loud officers' barracks scene while toasting the cavalry regiment as they also smoke cigarettes, around a campfire in a farmer's field after work we see farmers and serfs drink vodka after dinner, and a woman pours herself a brandy at home and adds morphine to it before drinking the mixture in a couple of scenes (in the second scene we see her stumble slightly after drinking it). Men smoke small cigars and cigarettes in several scenes, a few women smoke cigarettes at dances and at a horse race, a woman who smokes for the first time coughs several times and says she will try again another time, and a man smokes by himself on his front porch at night.
- Relationships, marriage, work, family, fidelity, jealousy, faith, forgiveness, judgment, society, passion, death, suicide.
- Respect is a poor substitute for love.
Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.
We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.
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