Continuing with this month’s theme of powerful corseted women and the ineffectual men who love them, I turn my attention now to 19th century Russia and the classic tale of Anna Karenina (DVD/Download). There have been several adaptations over the years, but my favorite is the most recent film starring Keira Knightley. She’s, to be honest, not that amazing as Karenina, but the film itself is beautifully stylized. Is it a play? Is it a film? Is it Gigi without the singing? Who knows! Who cares!
In Oscar winning creations from costume designer Jacqueline Durran, Knightley frets her way through train stations, lavish balls, theatrical sets, and her chilly home with husband Alexei Karenin, played by Jude Law (with what I fear is his actual receding hairline). I must be getting old if Jude Law is playing the cuckolded husband instead of the dashing young Count Vronsky. I guess it’s not 1997 anymore. For anyone who has ever felt that Tolstoy was inaccessible, director Joe Wright proves you wrong. Through his vision, this classic tale becomes a stylish soap opera- The Cold & the Beautiful, perhaps? Adultery, illegitimate children, unrequited love, suicide- St. Petersburg seems downright scandalous.
My beverage of choice may cause some laughs, but I decided to go literal this week. While watching Anna Karenina, I recommend drinking a White Russian.
1.5 oz vodka
.75 oz Kahlua
.75 oz heavy cream
Shake well with ice, then pour into a chilled glass.
I was surprised to see Alicia Vikander pop up in this film as Kitty, although I shouldn’t have been because she is EVERYWHERE now. Somehow, I managed to watch Burnt, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Anna Karenina all in one week, not knowing this It Girl was in all three. It’s easy to forget about her truly lovely Karenina subplot involving a country boy’s love for a city girl, but next to the flash of Anna and her man triangle, it’s a welcome respite. Critics were certainly torn on this heavily stylized film, but in my opinion, it makes a classic story even more exhilarating. Cheers!*
*Side note, I tried to find the Russian equivalent of “cheers”, but Google tells me a classic toast in Russia involves the telling of a short story or anecdote. That sounds awfully complicated and very Tolstoy. So perhaps this entire post is one long toast. You’re welcome, Russia.