Anna Karenina Julien Duvivier

Anna Karenina Julien Duvivier
Leo Tolstoy’s classic becomes a so-so British movie in this fluid but shallow literary adaptation. The famed title character (Vivien Leigh) is introduced while telling a betrayed sister that the women men cheat with are generally despised. She then contradicts herself by shutting out her noble husband (an excellent Ralph Richardson) for a younger officer named Vronsky (Kieron Moore), thus setting off a chain of events that will drive her out of high society, wrench her son from her arms and send her into a downward spiral from which there is no return. French director Julien Duvivier does his best with some very subtle but fluid camera moves; he captures the melancholy and creeping tension better than the script does, which is more functional than expressive and seems more like a straight melodrama than a great work of literature. Duvivier is so expressive that you may not feel anything more than vague dissatisfaction, though you’re not likely to miss that Leigh is rather miscast and that Moore doesn’t have the romantic goods to make their meeting as fateful as the script would have it. The film isn’t terrible and looks very good indeed but it just doesn’t have the juice of great cinema and winds up coming across as a handsome but un-affecting time killer. There are some great supporting performances by a cast that’s sadly fallen out of memory; they’re as good a reason as any to see this movie, though you might want to swap a few of them for the names above the title. Extras include two outstanding featurettes on Tolstoy and his legacy, a restoration comparison, and a stills gallery. (Fox)