Anna Karenina

  • 2000
  • 3 HR 47 MIN
  • NR

This breathtaking Masterpiece Theatre television adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel captures the sizzling romance and gripping narrative, remaining flawlessly true to the original story while offering a fresh, 21st-century perspective on the perils of a courageous woman who defies strict social mores to follow her heart. Helen McCrory gives a mesmerizing...read more

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Reviewed by Rachel Liebling
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This breathtaking Masterpiece Theatre television adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel captures the sizzling romance and gripping narrative, remaining flawlessly true to the original story while offering a fresh, 21st-century perspective on the perils of a courageous woman who defies strict social mores to follow her heart. Helen McCrory gives a mesmerizing performance as Anna, the dutiful wife who sacrifices her aristocratic status in late 19th century Russia, fleeing a comfortable but loveless marriage for a torrid adulterous affair with Count Vronsky (Kevin McKidd), a wealthy army officer. Flung into deep despair by the loss of her son and nasty snubs from former high-society cronies, Anna’s emotional torment eats away at the promise of happiness she has so vehemently sought. Unlike previous film versions, this four-hour series first broadcast on British television allows ample time to explore the intrigues of secondary characters and engrossing subplots in rich detail. The tremendous depth and breadth of the production handsomely illuminate a long-lost time and place. Yet as the story unfolds so does the chilling realization that things haven’t changed much since then: women still confront the same troubling predicaments today. Evocative cinematography and lush period art direction add luster to the heartrending historical drama, and though the inevitable tragedy looms large, this vivid portrayal of a timeless human dilemma keeps you hoping that love will triumph after all.

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