In 19th century Russia, when Prince Stiva's wife, Dolly, catches him during the act of his affair, she attempts to kick him out of their home. Stiva summons his sister, Anna Karenina, to talk Dolly into forgiving him. Stiva hangs out, in the meantime, with his good friend Levin, who confesses that he loves Stiva's sister-in-law Kitty. Kitty spurns Levin's proposal, however, because she is hoping for a proposal from the dreamy Count Vronsky. Upon arriving to Moscow, Anna Karenina meets Vronsky, and both of them immediately are infatuated with one another. At a fancy Russian ball upon Anna's arrival, she finds herself dancing with Vronsky, despite the fact that Kitty was longing to spend significant time dancing with him, and despite Anna's own marriage to a respected man in society, Alexei. Anna realizes that she has stirred up rumors, and she attempts to head home and leave Vronsky behind, but Vronsky accompanies her, insisting that he can't be away from her any longer. He essentially becomes Anna's shadow, which Alexei can't help but notice. Eventually, Anna gives into her infatuation and sleeps with Vronsky, becoming pregnant. Soon after, Vronsky is badly injured in a horse racing accident, and Anna is unable to hide her affection for Vronsky, disturbing Alexei. Anna tries to get a divorce from him, but Alexei refuses, leaving Anna in a difficult place, trying to remain a member of society while also embracing her love with Vronsky.
Best part of story, including ending:
The director, Joe Wright, has such a magical visual style, staging the entire movie in an old theater. The performances are strong, and the special effect to recreate old Russia are gorgeous.
Best scene in story:
When Stiva is setting up the ball, the entire set-up is executed in one extended uncut shot, and magically the ball begins during the set-up without an edit away. It's a gorgeous bit of visual flair.
Opinion about the main character:
Anna struggles with her infatuation and her own marriage, and while we sympathize with her, and Knightley's performance is strong, it's unfortunate that the actor who plays Vronsky is so wooden.