x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Anna Karenina

A little overambitious in places, this sumptuous re-invention starring Keira Knightley is still a feast for the senses.

Keira Knightley. right, as Anna Karenina and Jude Law as her husband. AP Photo / Focus Features
Keira Knightley. right, as Anna Karenina and Jude Law as her husband. AP Photo / Focus Features

Anna Karenina
Director: Joe Wright
Starring: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
***

Joe Wright's third literary collaboration with Keira Knightley is more stylistically experimental than either Pride and Prejudice or Atonement, wallowing in its own stagy artifice and stylised opulence.

Adapted by the veteran dramatist Tom Stoppard, Wright's bold take on Tolstoy's classic 19th-century novel largely takes place inside a rambling, rundown theatre.

Highlighting how outwardly respectable Russian aristocratic society was full of stilted performances, the setting is a gamble which mostly pays off, adding colour and zing to the staid conventions of costume drama.

Knightley's Anna is brittle yet defiant, while Aaron Taylor-Johnson oozes haughty arrogance as her illicit lover, Count Vronsky. But the main acting honours belong to Jude Law, playing drab and ugly for once as Anna's long-suffering husband Karenin. A little overambitious in places, Wright's sumptuous reinvention is still a feast for the senses.