Film review: Anna Karenina

SARAH WATT
Last updated 14:58 28/01/2013
Anna Karenina

ANNA KARENINA: Keira Knightly stars as the eponymous heroine.

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Anna Karenina (M) 124 mins

Bright young British director Joe Wright again teams up with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen (Pride and Prejudice) to bring Tolstoy to life in this dizzyingly theatrical piece of cinema.

Whether you like her or not, Knightley is luminous as the titular Anna, peaceably married to a stolid Jude Law until she meets the dashing Count Vronsky (Nowhere Boy's Aaron Taylor Johnson, looking like a moustachioed Michelangelo's David. My knees weaken just looking at the film poster).

Anna is a stalwart of Russian high society, a socialite whose every move is scrutinised and gossiped over, and as she finds herself rapidly caught up in the affair, everything is at stake.

There have been many film adaptations, but here the lively script by playwright Tom Stoppard (particularly enjoyable from the lips of Macfadyen's delightful Oblonsky) is the perfect base for Wright's production flair. This is a feast for the ears as much as eyes, with clever segues and swift changes between scenes, the soundtrack wittily integrated into the action.

With a story that seldom sidesteps melodrama, the entire experience is as sumptuous as fur-lined silk, and every performance a joy to behold.

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