Tag Archive: atonement


Anna Karenina Review

For a film set in Russia, it is pretty strange that all the characters have British accents. It becomes clear early on that authenticity and realism may not be high on director Joe Wright’s priorities. With Wright’s experience in the period drama genre being unquestionable after he has directed Pride & Prejudice and Atonement he was obviously a good choice to direct this piece and the visuals are very well done as you would come to expect from Wright.

Anna Karenina was originally a novel written by the famous Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. The story revolves around the title character as she begins to question her life, her happiness, her marriage and love itself. And these feelings start to cause some problems after Anna meets the determined Count Vronsky. At the time the novel was written the story itself contained strong political themes but in the modern world as a film this is something that we have seen before; most period dramas are just women in high societal positions having an affair and having to deal with it and more often than not Keira Knightley is involved in some way or another (here she plays the title character).

Knightley seems to be an expert of good performances that aren’t anything special and unfortunately her performance here is good at best, at times falling into the realms of averageness. Aaron Taylor-Johnson (as he is credited on the bill since his marriage to Nowhere Boy director Sam Taylor-Wood) has a great screen presence here and seems to light up the screen and drive the story forward every time he appears. It is great to see him playing a more established and older man than his roles in Kick-Ass and Nowhere Boy. Otherwise, the rest of the cast is pretty lacklustre in performance: Kelly Macdonald is pointless at best, Jude Law is good but I couldn’t help but feel like he was miscast, but Matthew MacFayden brings some comedy highlights to the film which is nice.

The first twenty or thirty minutes of Anna Karenina would lead you to believe that you were about to watch an actual masterpiece. The way that Anna Karenina is directed is as if it is a theatrical performance with scenes and sets being moved and people seeming to walk from one scene just straight into another. This was a very novel and creative way of doing things but it seemed as though everyone got bored with it and they decided against doing this half way through the film and that was largely disappointing. The characters aren’t well rounded really, there are hints at back story that we never really get to know and the lack of background that we are given makes it almost impossible for us to get to know or get to care about any of the characters. Eventually, I became so fed up and disheartened with the characters that I wondered if it was too much to ask for the writers to just include a nuclear bomb that would end the film there and then. I must state that this isn’t the actors fault, I think they managed to do a pretty decent job with what they were given. Just what they were given wasn’t all that good.

Interestingly though I found that the sub plot was a lot more interesting and I found the story to be more compelling than the main one, which is probably a bad thing. The sub plot revolved around Domhnall Gleeson’s and Alicia Vikander’s characters. It seemed to me as though these two characters had a better love story and a more believable connection to one another than the main relationship at the centre of this film. They only pop up every now and again and the sub plot has little to no effect on the main storyline so it does seem pointless and takes up time in a film that suffers because of it’s running time.

Anna Karenina is good in places but unfortunately very bad in others.

My Rating: 5/10.

Hanna is an American-European action thriller revolving around a 16-year-old who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin after she is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.

Saoirse Ronan plays the sixteen year old girl at the centre of the movie and back in 2011 she was nominated for a number of awards, quite rightly, for her portrayal of the assassin. Right from the opening hunting scene you get a real sense of Ronan’s acting abilities and you know instantly that this is going to be a great performance from her. Hanna’s father, Erik Heller is played by Eric Bana and although he puts on a pretty convincing accent for his part in the film there is something very off putting about his on screen persona; this could be attributed to his character’s past but I think unfortunately it comes down to Bana himself (who I am not a fan of anyway after seeing him in The Hulk and being almost bored to tears watching The Time Traveler’s Wife). Cate Blanchett plays the villain pretty convincingly, she does seem like someone who you could really hate. And there’s a lovely moment where Jason Flemyng decides to pop up and inject a bit of humour into the film that is largely unexpected.

Hanna is quite a step away from what director Joe Wright is known for; he previously directed Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. His direction, however, is one of the most interesting aspects of the film. Every shot is clearly well thought through and the film just looks like a wonderful piece of artwork, the visuals are very very good. There is a sequence early on where Hanna, after thinking she has completed her mission, breaks out from where she is being held and her escape is so visually stimulating its incredible, the camera work, the effects: everything is detailed perfectly and it is a very fun sequence to watch. The film also has an underlying theme of fantasy and fairy tale (one of Hanna’s only forms of escapism comes in the form of a Grimm fairy tale book) and you really get a sense for that whilst watching. It’s not ‘in your face’ so much but when you notice it it really adds another layer to the film itself.

I would have liked to have seen more fight scenes and more action because at some times it did become quite dull and things seemed to take longer than perhaps they should have (Hanna’s friendship with the British girl she meets almost seems irrelevant) but when the action did take place and fights happened they were choreographed excellently. Eric Bana takes on four men in an underground car park type place and it is shot and fought really well. As for being a thriller it is good to see the seeds planted for the revelations at the end quite early on but I do think more back story would have been helpful to let the audience connect with the characters better.

Overall a very good film, the directing and the acting helps to overcome the sparse action sequences.

My Rating: 7/10.

Keira Knightley: A British Star

Keira Knightley seems to have been around for a lot longer than she actually has. In fact, the English actress is still just twenty seven years old and along with Carey Mulligan and Gemma Arterton, she spearheads the representation of young, talented British actresses working in Hollywood.

Before becoming the big film star that she is today, Keira Knightley cut her teeth in television. As a child she had small roles in several episodes of television shows, including British institution The Bill. It is not common knowledge, but at just 14 years old Knightley appeared in the heavily criticised Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Despite the commercial success, it would take another couple of years for Keira to land the role that would launch her career.

After appearing in television series Oliver Twist, she made a couple more films specifically for television before showing up in the psychological thriller The Hole alongside Thora Birch. 2002 was the year that really kick started Knightley’s career. She picked up a role in a film centring around a young female Sikh’s rebellion against her parents as she joins a women’s football (or soccer) team; the film, of course, is the brilliant Bend It Like Beckham. This was a brilliant performance by the young Keira Knightley and really raised her profile within the film industry.

Keira Knightley is a brilliant English actress. Orlando Bloom is just English.

In 2003 Keira Knightley became the new Hollywood ‘It’ girl with the lead female role in smash hit Pirate of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (the best of the Pirates films) as Elizabeth Swann. Knightley put in a great performance in Curse of the Black Pearl and you can tell how good it is by the fact that she actually manages to make Orlando Bloom look like a half decent actor too. The Pirates franchise made Knightley well known to Hollywood audiences and she went on to star in the next two films in the series as well.

After breaking Hollywood Knightley appeared in British romantic comedy Love Actually alongside a whole host of British stars including Emma Thomspon and Hugh Grant. Unfortunately, her career seemed to stall after this (aside from the Pirates films) as she starred in King Arthur, Domino and The Jacket; all of which were flops with critics and audiences.

After failing to impress as an ‘action chick’ Keira Knightley moved into a genre that most audiences now would associate her with: the period drama. In 2005, Knightley portrayed Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice for which she was awarded her only Oscar nomination to date. Knightley continued to impress in this area with Silk, Atonement, The Edge of Love and The Duchess. Atonement saw Knightley nominated for a Golden Globe and a Bafta for her performance and left many critics puzzled as to why she had not been nominated for an Oscar as well.

Knightley gives one of her best performances in The Duchess.

In 2010, Keira Knightley appeared alongside other bright British talents Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield for Never Let Me Go. She then went on to appear in Last Night and then London Boulevard which teamed her up with one of the most hot and cold actors of our time, Colin Farrell. She was most recently seen on cinema screens in A Dangerous Method with Viggo Mortensen and the brilliant Michael Fassbender which details the birth of psychoanalysis from Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung’s friendship.

I think that Keira Knightley is one of the best young actresses that England has produced over recent years. And despite the fact she gets acclaim for a large majority of her performances it seems like she is forgotten when she doesn’t have a film out and so is very hard done by. She is certainly a talented actress and I think it’s great that she continues to make British films and resisting the lure of big budget Hollywood blockbusters.

‘The Host’ Trailer

UK Release Date: 29th March 2013.

This is the first trailer of The Host, based on the novel by best selling author Stephanie Meyer, who also wrote the Twilight series of books that have dominated teen cinema for the last couple of years.

The plot is a lot different to Twilight, instead of vampires we now have aliens. Alien beings from another planet have invaded the earth and have begun to take over the bodies and minds of humans. Melanie Stryder’s body has been inhabited by one of the “souls” named Wanderer, but she refuses to fade away.

The film is being led by Saoirse Ronan, a young and upcoming actress who has received critical acclaim over and over again for her performances in Atonement, The Lovely Bones and Hanna. So the casting of Ronan in Stephanie Meyer’s latest adaptation is surely set to guarantee big box office takings.

Of course, this is only a teaser trailer and it does well to get the story of the film across. The images of the eye over and over again, as being the key to human soul, really add to the effect of human bodies being taken over by these aliens. I’m not too sure about the use of a series of stills of people who have all been inhabited as it just comes across as a little sloppy, but then again, there isn’t going to be any footage they can turn into a trailer at such an early stage so perhaps it was the best option.

The trailer may not get new fans too excited for the film but as for people who have read the book, I think they will be very excited at the prospect of this.