Friday, February 22, 2013

Anna Karenina Film Review and Auditions

Film Review - Anna Karenina

Balance undermined by weak portrayal of Tolstoy’s heroine.   

The new ‘Anna Karenina’ is a film of two parts. Karenina is neither the great film we desire, nor the mediocre one that captures our attention for the entire duration. A painstaking effort has been made, polishing the screen with an interior shimmer or gloss. We are shown into a theatre where so much of the intrigue becomes apparent. In the early stages, the film moves very smoothly. The adroit and suave Prince Stepan Arkadyvich Oblonsky appears all at once, he sincerely regrets his adultery with his French nurse. A searching depiction of nineteenth century Russia creates a bright start for what promised to be an interesting film. Everything is chandeliers, an elaborate world of dazzling effects.

Outwardly we have a setting that is enticing, with a set a fabulous characters but the external show is less than the sum of its parts. This ‘Anna Karenina’ has passion but lacks an inner heart. Keira Knightley is the main reason for this shallowness: however that is also a flaw with most of her films. Brilliant acting is found in the other actors in abundance, especially Jude Law as Karenin. Solid character acting is one the strengths of this film, pitting the picture-perfect glisten of polite society against the foibles of love. Indeed, it is wonderful how the director has created this style; the depiction of surfaces and well constructed artifices.

Ultimately, this is also the downfall of the film. At times, scenes begin and end, since, simultaneously one is drawn to the stories told by these characters but then repelled by the part played by Keira Knightley. In this film Keira Knightley takes centre stage; but she cannot hold the attention. She does not attain the candour and sensitivity required from a great tragic heroine, namely a mixture of caprice, and wonder in midst of great emotional turmoil. Knightley verges too often on the cusp of hysteria (but is emotional without a deepened sense of those feelings) remote from salvation, or sympathy. Nor do we enter the soul of this complex Tolstoy character.

That would then amount to great acting, something this Anna Karenina lacks to fly upwards upon the wings of vanity. One should feel more compassion for the fatal death of Karenina and the price of passion. Instead the film induces coldness and beauty is not enough. With these problems despite sensitively acted cameos, these unfortunately dissolve heedlessly, into the background, as Keira Knightley’s mannequin comes into painful relief. Vronsky played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson is interesting without the sinister aspects of Vronsky’s moral make-up. The interplay between Karenin (Jude Law) and Karenina should be the pivot of the film.

There is some wonderful ensemble acting that is very finely done, especially in the acting by Kelly Macdonald (the French Nurse), and the death scene and its prelude in the beginning of the film. Essentially we are presented with the predicament of adultery and the complicated emotions and the primitive depths of the heart; without, and within the civilised world. Life and death and human frailty are present and carried by Jude Law’s subtle portrayal of the nobility of spirit that carry on despite contrary sentiments. Moments of genuine emotion, passionate sacrifice and the heroine’s vapidity are so monochrome and lifeless for the viewer to claim them. The film is suspended mid-air, waiting for oxygen to fill the lungs of the Russian women whose life deserves flesh and blood. Inevitably Anna Karenina’s death, almost an afterthought here, does not allow for sympathy, yet belies this tragic waste of a possible masterpiece. Anna remains a chimera as light as dissipating smoke from a steam locomotive.

By Timothy Sparks


Final auditions for lead roles in local production ‘Botoo’ at The Playhouse Company on 27 February 2013.

The search is on for the male and female leads in the play "Botoo" to be staged by The Playhouse Company in August as part of the South African Women’s Arts Festival. The play, to mark the publication of the book, "SA Women of Indian Origin" by Dr Devi Rajab, is written and directed by Ronnie Govender.

- Gonum (central character) – Indian, female, late forties, medium build, slim, throaty, ready laugh, extrovert, politically conscious, preferably curly black hair. 

- Writer – Indian, male, mid-thirties, preferably full head of hair, confident, ready sense of humour, politically conscious. 

Dr Gonum was very prominent in the struggle against apartheid and was one of the foremost leaders of the Passive Resistance Movement but she was also known as a feisty, no nonsense person who bravely stood up for her rights as a woman at a time of great conservatism, especially within the Indian community. 

The auditions will take place at The Playhouse Company Head Office, 29 Acutt Street Durban, on Wednesday, 27 February 2013, from 13h00 in rehearsal studio A1. 

Each person auditioning must prepare a soliloquy no more than 2 minutes long. 

Please bring a biography and photograph to the audition. 

All persons wishing to audition must contact Zinhle Nala on 031 369 9460 / by 16h00 on Monday, 25 February 2013 to book an audition slot.

(Source - Pansa)

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