Too much Karenina: New adaptation upstages the tale

Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary are two of the most notorious fallen women in literature. Karenina is prepared to lose all the advantages of high society in favor of the man she loves. Bovary abandons the man who loves her in an attempt to climb socially. As portrayed by Leo Tolstoy and Gustave Flaubert, both women are devastated by the prices they pay.

These are two of the great roles for many actresses and irresistible challenges for many filmmakers. There have been more than a dozen film versions of Karenina, most famously by Greta Garbo (1927 and 1935) and Vivien Leigh; almost as many of Bovary, notably by Isabelle Huppert, Jennifer Jones, and Pola Negri (Mia Wasikowska will play her next year).

I mention these details to ask myself: What makes the two roles so enticing that every good actress must sooner or later read the novels and start to daydream? Both are mothers who essentially choose to abandon their single children. Both are the center of attention and gossip within their own circles. Both use opera houses as a stage for their affairs. Both pay dearly for their adulteries. The big difference is that Karenina is driven by sincere passion, and Bovary by selfishness and greed. Karenina inspires pity, Bovary gets what she deserves.

In Joe Wright's daringly stylized new version of "Anna Karenina," he returns for the third time to use Keira Knightley as his heroine...(READ FULL REVIEW)

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?? "both women are devastated by the prices they pay"?? ... might read better if amended to "each woman is devastated by the price she pays" ....

Since when did Ebert become a comp lit prof? These proclamations are completely mindless simplifications of character and plot at best. Karenina and Bovary are two of the most compelling female characters in 19th century literature-- that could be why actresses are clamoring to play them. Ebert is obviously out of his league here.