After the start of the movie, you think you're in for a real treat. But the movie as it is, is a bit of a mixed bag, though I ultimately still did end up liking it, after the movie started to redeem itself in its second act.
The way the movie starts off seems promising. It's fun and both visually and technically interesting to watch. However after the movie progresses, it starts to become obvious this is an ultimately still very dry movie, with also not the best or most interesting of stories in it.
Reason why I just wasn't ever into this movie, during its first half at least, was due to its love story. It's centered around an egocentric person, played by Keira Knightley and involves infidelity. I just don't get it when romantic movies involves infidelity, they treat it like something romantic, by trying to show these two people truly belong together, despite how good the husband actually treats his cheating wife. Just not my idea of ultimate romance and I'm surely not going to like- or care for any of the main characters more because of it. HOWEVER there is something you need to realize about this movie; it's not a romantic movie at all. Just don't even look at it that way. It's simply a drama instead, as also clearly starts to become apparent during the second half of the movie.
Yes, you could say that the movie does a pretty good job at fooling you at first. You think that the movie will be heading into a certain direction but you'll soon learn it's heading somewhere totally different with its story instead. But perhaps I should had known better, knowing how this is based on a Leo Tolstoy novel. OK, so you basically could still take the fist half of the movie as one that's centering around a love story, that shows how beautiful love is and how love can ultimately overcome anything. The second half of the movie is however all about the consequences. Suddenly things don't seem so perfect and gloomy anymore. What I liked was that movies normally tend to end on an 'and they lived happily ever after' kind of note, right after its two main characters end up together. But as we all know, love stories actually don't stop just there and most don't end up that well at all, no matter how perfect it all seems at the very start of it and no matter what type of heartfelt promises get made. I'm grateful that there are still movies like this, even though this movie is still a far from perfect one.
With its story and settings, this movie indeed feels like an old fashioned one. The earlier mentioned love-story especially feels outdated and is more something that would had been popular in 1930's or 1940's romantic movies, set during the same sort of period, with also the same sort of settings and characters. It's funny how infidelity stories often involve aristocratic type of characters, or people of high society. But the point I was trying to make was; I'm just not really sure if there are still people out there waiting for these type of movies. Costumes dramas are still sort of popular but I feel that this is a different type of movie from the usual costume drama, that tend to be more drama, character, dialog oriented and driven by its acting, while this movie is being far more visually orientated.
And visually the movie does some interesting things and it makes some interesting choices with settings. The movie feels and looks more like a stage-play, which is something that I in this particular case liked and seemed to set the story and all of its characters. It besides is a beautiful looking movie, with all of its costumes and makeup effects and such as well.
They also attempted to spice things up a little bit more, by making it fun and doing some unexpected things. However, ultimately they just didn't ever pushed it through. It feels more like a half hearted attempt and it causes the dryness and drama of the movie to clash with its more comical and light moments, at times. I don't really feel it ever works out as a very successful combination, though it luckily doesn't bring the movie down too much. It just prevents it from being an absolutely great, unique or must-see movie.
So really, I never disliked watching this movie (too much), not even during its first half but I can still see some of its problems and why some people are going to have even more problems with it and perhaps ultimately are even going to dislike it. Just keep one thing in mind, before watching this movie though; try to take- and see it as a drama instead and not as much as a romantic one.