I flinched this morning when I read a riff by Deadline‘s Pete Hammond that called Joe Wright‘s Anna Karenina “risky” and “a roll of the dice.” Those are code terms that mean “beware, 62 year-old Academy members…you may not like this exciting new adaptation of Leo Tolstoy‘s classic tragedy because it doesn’t traffic in typical historical realism and therefore you and your friends might have a difficult time with it.”

Keira Knightley in Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina.

I despise that way of absorbing and processing films.

Wright’s decision to present Anna Karenina as a “ballet with words” is the kind of outside-the-box manuever that true cinema lovers live for. God, please let me live in a world in which a brilliant director will at least occasionally be daring or different or nervy enough to try something like Wright’s Karenina, and God protect me from a movie-watching realm in which films like Karenina and guys like Wright are never seen or heard from.

The innovation and spirit that pumped life and blood and greatness into Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger‘s The Red Shoes and into the better films of Ken Russell is the same that animates and energizes Anna Karenina, and I despise the fuddy-duddy mindset that would look at this film and go, “Uh-oh…might be dicey! Feels like a risk!”