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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
While the movie makes it clear that love comes in many forms and, for the most part, is life-affirming and soul-sustaining, the story is also about a woman who turns her back on her husband to be with her lover, putting her marriage, motherhood, and place in society in jeopardy and tearing her apart.
Positive Role Models
Anna Karenina is a good mother, if not necessarily a good wife. Characters are complex and flawed.
Violence & Scariness
A man is shown pinned under a train and his bloody insides are visible for a few seconds; later, a woman is shown bloodied and dead after being hit by a train.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Gauzy scenes in close-up and soft focus imply strongly that a couple is having sex. Some moaning. Passionate kissing. A man is shown retrieving a birth control device before having sex. Talk of brothels, affairs/cheating, lovers. Some cleavage and scenes of shirtless men (plus one glimpse of the side of a man's bare bottom). Part of a wet nurse's breast is seen.
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A few uses of "damn" and "my God."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some period-accurate smoking, as well as a few scenes of people drinking vodka and champagne. A woman resorts to using morphine to fall asleep.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Anna Karenina is a sensuous, visually sumptuous, beautifully stylized take on Tolstoy's classic novel about doomed love in late 1870s Russia. It's quite intense, focusing on how a woman (played by Keira Knightley) turns her back on her husband to be with her lover, putting her marriage, motherhood, and place in society in jeopardy and tearing her apart. There's little nudity beyond cleavage and men's bare chests, but some scenes definitely imply lovemaking, and there's moaning and passionate kissing. Also expect smoking and vodka drinking, as well as some tragic scenes and death. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.