Wednesday, February 20, 2013 9:00 AM EDT
Anna Karenina via The Hollywood Reporter
Being a 19th-century Russian aristocrat must have been exhausting at mealtime — the number of dishes is recorded to have reached 200. Imagine the conveyor belt of plates ushering forth from the kitchen: the wood grouse, roast hare, suckling pig, cabbage salads, bowls of borscht, sturgeon, potatoes with herring and stewed fruit compotes. Well, you get the idea. All of which leads me to Joe Wright’s version of Anna Karenina. Sometimes you just want a tomato sandwich.
I thought this watching the film; like a decadent buffet, it seems to be a bit much. The theatricality — it’s set on wildly changing stages — supersedes any connection we make with the characters (we’re too busy being regaled by the hijinks).
That said, the set design is spectacular, as are the costumes by Oscar-nominee Jacqueline Durran. From the gleaming marquetry on the sleigh beds to the dramatic damask walls, the interior is an orgiastic feast to be studied, then copied for your own palace — or one-bedroom walk-up.
Here’s how to go neoclassic adulteress:
You know those hardcovers with gold edges you see in used bookstores? Buy a stack and put them on display. Ditto grandma’s china set — polish her silver samovar while you’re at it. Think Empire or Louis XVI settees and chair, claw-foot tables, showy chandeliers and elaborate mirrors popping against the blackest of walls — a neoclassic room is unabashedly conspicuous.
More ornate bits and pieces to put you in the right direction: dark blue or black damask wall coverings, urns, velvet drapery over a bed’s headboard, crystal or faux-glass scotch decanters, commodes, French side tables — or any detailed old-world furniture with fluted feet, a sheen and inlaid marquetry — mahogany sleigh beds, a lady’s vanity set complete with bronze brush and powder puff, a piece of artwork in a gilded frame.
1. 18th Century Italian Baroque Giltwood Mirror, US $6,500. 2. French Regency Walnut Sleigh Daybed, US $6,250. 3. Velvet French Settee, $1,336. 4. Russian Brass Samovar, US $1,200. 5. 19th Century Glazed Black Basalt Cream Jug, price unknown. 6. Kingwood and Rosewood Commode, US $11,750.