I knew this would be a film for me when I first saw the trailer.
I did however spend the first fifteen minutes of the film wondering if I had made a huge judgement error.
Anna Karenina is played out on a theatre stage with the characters moving between set and scene changes. The fast pace of the camera and changes of scenery actually made me feel queasy to begin with but once you accept the direction of the film it becomes essential to its impact.
Keira Knightley plays Anna, married to respected politician Alexei Karenina. Anna begins an affair with a young army officer which ultimately destroys her.
Knightley portrays Anna well. As stunning as always but with a dark side that is almost but not completely concealed she battles with her own demons after destroying her marriage.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays her lover, count Vronsky. An attractive man who's brains are quite obviously in his trousers as his mother and friends try to warn him of the destructive effect the affair will have on his life. Taylor-Johnson is convincing but his acting is completely overshadowed by the wonderful performance from Jude Law.
Jude Law's acting seems to improve with age. Or maybe it is his choice of roles that is improving. Karenina is an honest religious man who tries to warn his wife of the sin of infidelity as soon as he senses her distraction. Despite his calmness, his constant knuckle cracking and obvious growing despair at his wife's behaviour makes him a character to be somewhat feared.
Parallel to the main story is that of Konstantin Dmitrievich Levin. His story of political and personal struggles is somewhat distracting from the main plot but his battle to find his purpose in life becomes quite obvious.
Overall and once I had recovered from the strange start to this film I enjoyed it immensely. Beautiful scenes, beautiful people and dramatic twists and turns. What more could you ask for?