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If Anna Karenina was a by-the-numbers, Garry Marshall-directed romantic comedy, we’d actively root for Anna (Keira Knightley) to buck the odds and be with her true love, Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). But this isn’t Hollywood fluff. It’s classic Russian literature – Tolstoy, to be specific. Anna is a married Russian socialite, and Vronsky her forbidden fruit. We’re invested in their affair, primarily because we know that only heartache and devastation can come out of it.

Joe Wright’s magnificent adaptation of Tolstoy’s sweeping novel opens in limited release, beginning what we hope is a lengthy awards campaign. (Read Katey Rich’s five-star review right here.) We’re massive fans of Wright’s unique, theatrical vision of Anna Karenina. At the Toronto Film Festival, we were able to sit down with Wright and his collaborators to talk about the film’s emotional components, the difference in live-theater performance techniques, their favorite sets, and the intimidation that comes with adapting Russian literature.

Here’s Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who trades his homemade Kick-Ass costume for Russian military garb in Wright’s mesmerizing film:

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