OSCARS: Filmmakers Say ‘Anna Karenina’ Was A Calculated Risk

Diane Haithman is an AwardsLine contributor.

The British are famous for understatement, and to call early reviews for English director Joe Wright’s new take on Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina “mixed” is indeed an understatement.

The movie, produced by London-based Working Title Productions (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) and distributed domestically by Focus Features, arrived for its world premiere at September’s Toronto International Film Festival with an impressive awards-season pedigree. Anna Karenina reunites Wright with Keira Knightley, who also starred in Atonement and netted an Oscar nomination for Pride & Prejudice. Jude Law portrays Anna’s cuckolded husband Karenin, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson is Count Vronsky. (Working Title also produced the upcoming Christmas movie musical Les Misérables, for Focus parent company Universal).

Related: ‘Anna Karenina’s Risky New Version

Anna Karenina has the added cachet of a script adapted by venerable British playwright Sir Tom Stoppard (Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, the Oscar-winning screenplay for Shakespeare in Love), who Wright says wrote the Anna script in longhand.

In Toronto, Anna Karenina had Cleveland Plain Dealer film critic Clint O’Connor turning somersaults, calling the film “a stunning production, something akin to a grand dance.” But The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis attacked the film as “a travesty with a miscast Keira Knightley that is tragic only in its conceptions and execution.” The Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips split his own review down the middle: “Anna Karenina only half-works; Wright forces the comedy more subtly managed by Stoppard (who is, after all, one of the wittiest men alive). But it’s trying something.”

And “trying something” seems to be the goal, say three key members of the team behind this $31-million effort: Wright, Knightley, and producer Tim Bevan of Working Title.  (more…)

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2012/11/oscars-filmmakers-say-anna-karenina-was-a-calculated-risk-374142/