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Parents' Guide to

Anna Karenina

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Stylized retelling of Tolstoy classic best for older teens.

Movie R 2012 130 minutes
Anna Karenina Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 13+

Brilliant movie

Honestly this is the best movie I have ever watched. Passed my views with flying colors. Good for teens as their is some non graphic s*x but is good for educational reasons depending on your child’s ability to understand.
age 18+

R-rated movies for children? No way.

An OK movie for adults, the whole thing is about people that cannot control themselves or keep their marital commitments. A lot of pain and suffering for all involved (and even for those that are not) ensues. Pretty serious stuff, as the MPAA rating suggests.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (4 ):

During the end credits, director Joe Wright's Anna Karenina is said to be "inspired by" the classic Leo Tolstoy novel of the same name; "inspired" is a fitting word to use. This isn't your usual costume drama with realistic backdrops and true-to-historical-detail scenery. Instead, while it is set during the late 1870s, it unfolds mostly in a theater, with the main events taking place onstage, under a proscenium arch. The unspoken, the underbelly, the illicit takes place above it, on the crossover and flyspace. The audience in the movie is Russian society, observing the drama as it happens.

It's all brilliant, even if it takes a while to get your bearings. Traditionalists may flinch at this interpretation, which distils Tolstoy's dense novel to its essence, focusing on Anna and Levin's quest for love -- two sides of the same coin. Knightley exhibits a whole host of transformations on her face; though she relies a bit too much on some obvious reactions to transmit emotions, she's an empathetic Anna, willing us to understand why she has done all she has done, in the name of love. Taylor-Johnson is a sensual Vronsky; Anna's attraction to him is understandable, if a folly. And Law is magnificent in the economy and power of his portrayal of the cuckolded Karenin. Bottom line? This adaptation, written by playwright Tom Stoppard, is brave and sometimes claustrophobic but for the most part a success, even if you do wonder about the possibilities that could have been explored had Wright taken a more conventional route.

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