I went with Nadira to see Anna Karenina last night. Sadly Tom Stoppard’s stab at boiling down this great and complex novel to a standard length feature film was brilliant but doomed; it just can’t be done. Enormous emotional depth and complexity was reduced at times to soap opera; while the virtues of Tom Stoppard’s script – and there were many – were consistently undercut by the appalling ego of the Director. Joe Wright seemed to think that directorial tricks were more important than the story, yet his grossly mannered trompe d’oeil had no relevance other than to look smart and detract from Tolstoy.
Yes there were occasions, like the horse race, when you were marvelling at the technical cleverness of setting it up in a theatre; but actually it is a pivotal point in the story when you are meant to be thinking of something more important than Joe Wright’s cleverness. It is pretty plain that Mr Wright has never imagined that anything could be more important.
The absence of naturalism made life very difficult for the actors to inhabit real characters, but I found Jude Law a revelation as Karenin, conveying a sense of helpless emotional autism that made him more sympathetic than I had found the character in the book. By contrast Keira Knightley was hopelessly miscast as Anna. She acted with all the command of emotional subtlety of Bob the Builder. Her degree of unhappiness, morphine addiction or suicidal distraction at any one time was signaled to us by how much frizzy hair was standing on end.
Anyway, save your money. The nachos were better value than the film.
I came home in time to watch the final four sets of Andy Murray winning the US Open. I cannot pretend I was not deeply engaged, indeed on occasions jumping up and running round the kitchen in excitement. The tennis was simply superb. The levels of fitness involved in playing a five hour game at that level are unimaginable. Murray and Djokovic are both players of artistry and guile.
Of course I was super delighted at the success not just of a Scot, but a member of my own Clan. I eventually got to bed thinking how much more I had enjoyed my evening with Andy Murray than with Keira Knightley. Now that’s not a sentence you hear every day…