Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina

Starring: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Johnson, Matthew MacFadyen

Director: Joe Wright

Rating: 4/5

Joe Wright is one of the most exciting British director working at the moment as he has delivered movie gems such as Pride and Prejudice, Atonement and Hanna in recent years.

And he is back with another period piece as be brings Leo Tolstoy's classic novel to the big screen - and believe me this is a movie that is not to be missed.

The story unfolds in its original late-19th-century Russia high-society setting and powerfully explores the capacity for love that surges through the human heart, from the passion between adulterers to the bond between a mother and her children.

As Anna (Knightley) questions her happiness, change comes to her family, friends, and community.

This is an incredibly ambitious vision as Wright blends film and theatre together to deliver an adaptation of this story that you have never seen before.

The theatre element of the movie works really well - although I have to admit that I wasn't sure about it at first - but Wright has delivered a totally engrossing movie that you barely notice.

Anna Karenina is a lavish telling of this well known story and it is bold and beautiful with Keira Knightley delivering another knock out performance.

Wright seems to bring the best out of her as she really does embody the title character - a woman who has never felt love and yet is a devoted wife and mother.

This is the best performance of Knightley's career so far as it is a passionate and yet tortured character that she well and truly gets under the skin of.

Similarly Jude Law is also excellent as Anna's standoffish and emotionally withdrawn husband.

He could so easily have been made the villain of this movie as the man who brings the worst out of his wife - but Law never allows this character stray into that territory.

He plays Karenina as a tortured betrayed man who the audience can't help but feel sorry for - he may not have a burning love for his wife but she has a good life with him.

Aaron Johnson was the major weakness in this movie for me and you wonder in more experienced hands just want the scenes with Knightley would have been like.

He turns in an admirable performance and he is by no means awful but the role of Count Vronsky is just missing that something to put it on a par with Knightley and Law.

The support cast as also fantastic but I would have liked to see more of Kelly Macdonald and Emily Watson.

Anna Karenina is already one of the movies that is surrounded in Oscar whispers - as is Knightley's performance - and it is not hard to see why.

This is a stunning adaptation of a well known story and Wright has not been afraid to put his own very unique stamp on it.

Anna Karenina is out now

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw

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