It certainly looks lavish, but I have to wonder about Joe Wright and Tom Stoppard taking on Count Leo in this new adaptation of Anna Karenina. The last foreign attempt was an American adaptation fifteen years ago with French actress Sophie Marceau cast in the lead role and Sean Bean as Count Vronsky. Now we get a British version with Keira Knightley and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the lead roles and Jude Law as Anna's jilted husband.
There really hasn't been a successful version of the novel. The Soviet version from 1967 featured Tatyana Samojlova, best known for her role in The Cranes Are Flying. There were earlier American attempts with Vivien Leigh in 1948 and Greta Garbo in 1935, but somehow Tolstoy's signature character has eluded actresses.
I like Keira. I thought she was great as Sabina Spielrein in A Dangerous Method, but she is a very intense actress, and the role of Anna requires someone with a more quiet passion. Her attempt at Lara in the British television production of Dr. Zhivago wasn't so good, mostly because she was miscast. She would have been better as Tonya.
I thought Sophie Marceau came the closest to capturing Anna's enigmatic character, but the problem in making a film of Anna Karenina is that each time the directors truncate the story and focus almost exclusively on the love story between Anna and Vronsky, reducing the relationship between Levin and Kitty to the sidelines, when it is meant to parallel that of Anna and Vronsky. The only attempt to tell the story in full was a Russian television adaptation from 2008, which was also a very lavish production. Here'a clip.