The whole film was really stylised; lots of balletic movements, physical stage scenery blending into very stagey settings, characters observing the action from wings and galleries. It was beautiful but oppressive which matches the feel of the novel quite well.
The pace of the film was frantic, which I guess it had to be to fit in as much of the novel’s content as it did. I was really impressed by how much the film tried to cover, though I think that without reading the book you wouldn’t fully appreciate the relationships between characters like Kitty and Levin.
Matthew Mcfayden played Oblonsky brilliantly, for me he brought a warmth and humour to the character that Tolstoy tried to suggest but didn’t quite manage to convey. Jude Law was great as Karenin, evoking both disgust and sympathy. I wouldn’t have known it was Law if I hadn’t seen the billing beforehand. Keira Knightley was much better than I expected her to be, but her inability to alter her voice at all when she acts always means that for me, she’s playing Keira Knightley, her wild-eyed acting made her look a lot like Winona Ryder, which made me think how much better Ryder would have been at playing this part. I’m not sure who decided that Vronsky should be blonde (he’s clearly described as being dark) but it suited Aaron Taylor-Johnson well enough, and let it be a testimony to his good looks and acting skills that he managed to carry off the porn star moustache without looking completely sleazy.
Impressive, with fantastic costumes and scenery, but I can’t help hoping that one day someone will do a less stylised, more comprehensive TV adaptation.