Anna Karenina
In his third collaboration with Keira Knightley, daring director Joe Wright offers an edgy new interpretation on Leo Tolstoy's classic tale of love and conflict in 19th century Russia with a provocative and poignant screenplay by Tom Stoppard. Rejecting the staid and stern tone typically favored by period piece adaptations, Wright steps outside the box by staging Anna Karenina primarily within an opulent theater, where its crowded wings serve as back alleys, and the heartbreak of the nobles at the film's center literally takes center stage. This device is visually dazzling and allows for Wright to take his love of elaborate long takes to sensational new heights.

The film is sumptuous with its luxurious production design, breathtaking cinematography and challenging conceptual execution. Its whimsical theatricality creates a captivating portrait of the rapture of romance, completed by impeccable performances by its remarkable cast who handles the whirling set pieces and moral complexity of their characters with an awe-inspiring effortlessness. If there's a better movie out there this year, I haven't seen it.

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