Anna Karenina review: Anna Karenina: Ravishing Keira Knightley is hard to adore

Anna Karenina: Ravishing Keira Knightley is hard to adore

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UPDATED:

22:38 GMT, 6 September 2012

Anna Karenina (12A)

Verdict: Beautiful but unmoving

Rating: 3 Star Rating

Films don’t come more glamorous than
this. Leo Tolstoy’s romantic tragedy has been filmed many times before,
but it’s never looked lovelier.

Nor has Anna. Keira Knightley when lit like this, is a screen goddess.

As her paramour Count Vronsky, Aaron
Taylor-Johnson is attractive, too, even if he’s blond and pretty rather
than, as Tolstoy described, dark and dangerous.

Star cast: Jude Law (left) stars as Alexei Karenin and Keira Knightley (right) stars as Anna in Joe Wright's Anna Karenina

Star cast: Jude Law (left) stars as Alexei Karenin and Keira Knightley (right) stars as Anna in Joe Wright's Anna Karenina

The story of their affair is as exquisitely framed as a Vogue fashion shoot — and as unmoving.

This Anna is vain and petulant, rather
than liberated ahead of her time, and Vronsky seems more in love with
himself than with her.

Jude Law — excellent as Anna’s wronged
husband, a socially aware cove who serves as a government minister — is
infinitely more sympathetic.

Another problem is that the two
subplots are more touching than the main plot. The pursuit of Princess
Kitty (Alicia Vikander) by idealistic farmer Levin (Domhnall Gleeson) is
sweet and unaffected.

Keira Knightley, is a screen goddess, but fails to to move the audience

Keira Knightley, is a screen goddess, but fails to to move the audience

And Kelly MacDonald steals the movie as Dolly, a woman unhappily married to Anna’s brother Oblonsky (Matthew Macfadyen).

The most affecting moment in the film
is when Dolly confides to Anna that she admires her rather than regards
her as a fallen woman: ‘I wish I’d done the same, but no one asked me.’

Many will rightly admire this film for
its look — costume designer Jacqueline Durran can prepare an
Oscar-sized space on her mantelpiece now.

But while it’s exquisite to look upon, it’s fatally low on feeling and high on a sense of its own intelligence.

A version of this review appeared in earlier editions.