Aside from the now-infamous tracking shots within his films, it’s gradually getting harder to place where director Joe Wright will head next. Historical drama has been his wheelhouse, yes, but after the art-house action of “Hanna” dazzled with ingenuity and skill, it seems he’s ready to display his range with his latest, “Anna Karenina.” Focus Features (who’s distributing the film) are ready too, as they’ve released three new TV spots to raise excitement, while outside news of Wright’s full-on involvement in the theatrical takes shape as well.
Boasting a Tom Stoppard screenplay along with a variety of talent, including Keira Knightley, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Jude Law to perform it, Wright’s Tolstoy adaptation has already dazzled a number of critics at TIFF and elsewhere, including our man in London, who called it, “fascinatingly theatrical and thrillingly cinematic,” praising Stoppard’s screenplay along with the performances overall. We added though, “While not quite an unreserved cause for celebration, it’s a film that we cherish despite its flaws,” and as the TV spots show (via Flicks and Bits), indeed Knightley’s performance and Wright’s signature visuals makes it at least worth a look.
While Wright’s version is almost-entirely set within the confines of a theatre stage, making no effort to disguise that fact, it seems the experience hinted at where his next project will lie. The director, whose parents founded a puppetry company themselves, recently announced he will stage the 1898 Arthur Wing Pinero comedy, “Trelawny of the Wells,” at the London-located Donmar Warehouse (the theater founded by Sam Mendes) in February. The play, which follows a famous young actress who turns her back on theatre for her relationship with an aristocrat, has much in common with Wright’s past. “In my teenage years, I rebelled against the family trade and went off and made film,” he explained. “It’s not much of a rebellion to some people but it felt like one to me.”
Even through his resistance, Wright admits he has been trying to find the right opportunity to stage a play, and ‘Trelawny’ represents the ideal circumstances. Coming off of ‘Karenina’ anyway, the play definitely fashions a perfect link between his experimental tendencies with the entirely new set of challenges that the stage presents, and we’re very intrigued by how it’ll turn out. Its production remains a while away though, so in the meantime enjoy Wright’s theatricality within ‘Karenina,’ which has opened already in the U.K., and heads into theaters November 9th in the U.S. [Evening Standard]