Published December 6, 2012
Keira Knightley stars in this lush adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s 1877 novel about a once happily married mother in the high society of imperial Russia who forsakes her upright husband (Jude Law) in favor of an aristocrat (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) with whom she falls obsessively in love. Director Joe Wright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard cover nearly all the elements from the novel, but they present about half of it in a highly stylized manner, using a theater as both a framing device and a setting. This creates the unpleasant sensation that the audience is completing an assignment for English class. Morally, though, Tolstoy’s message, that “sin has a price,” remains front and center. Nongraphic adulterous sexual activity, fleeting rear male nudity, a scene of breastfeeding. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.