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Kenneth Branagh on Keira Knightley in ‘Anna Karenina’

SAG Preview: Actors on Actors - Branagh on Knightley

Keira Knightley is breathtaking as “Anna Karenina.” Caught in a loveless marriage, Anna is swept off her feet by the dashing Count Vronsky and the sense of joy portrayed by Knightley when she finds true love for the first time in her life is contagious.

Her effervescence of spirit is tangible and irresistible. Her whole being seems to blaze with a ferocity that is mesmerizing. This is Knightley as we have never seen her before so completely: a mature woman who is also impulsive, troubled, deceitful, sexual, passionate, heartbroken.

“I am not ashamed of who I am or what I’ve done,” Anna defiantly proclaims to her young lover on being shunned by the Russian nobility for having such an open affair while married. But when, after bearing a child to the young count, she starts to believe that her lover’s feelings for her have diminished, Knightley’s sense of foreboding burns through the lens.

Everything about her work here sears and scorches itself into the memory. This is an actress of subtlety and delicacy fulfilling her potential in a performance that comes from the depths.

Like the novel itself, her work in the role is at once elegant and wild and compelling at every moment. A classic.

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