In a bold yet inspired move Joe Wright sets most of this film version of Leo Tolstoy's Russian classic within the confines of a grand but faded theatre.
That's why this adaptation, penned by Tom Stoppard, stands out from previous remakes and is more accessible to a wider audience.
Wright's cinematic muse Keira Knightley gives a fine performance as Anna Karenina who scandalises Russian high society by having an affair with a handsome cavalry officer (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).
Her husband, a stuffy imperial minister (Jude Law), is forced to make her choose between her son and her lover.
Knightley looks exquisite in her sumptuous period frocks while Law is rather wasted as her dull cuckold other half. Taylor-Johnson just doesn't possess the necessary presence or charm to turn Knightley's head.
The real show-stopper is the ingenious and visually captivating theatrical staging. But that doesn't bode well when that is more impressive than the A-list cast.