Heads Up: Anna Karenina

Keira plays Karenina ‑ the race for the Oscars starts here

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The Independent Culture

What are we talking about? A new Hollywood version of Leo Tolstoy's epic love story about an adulterous aristocratic woman, and her downfall, in 19th-century Russia.

Elevator pitch Keira goes Karenina for the big screen.

Prime movers Joe Wright, best known for Atonement, Pride & Prejudice and Hanna, directs the film, while Tom Stoppard, writer of plays Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia and the Oscar-winning movie Shakespeare in Love, adapts Tolstoy for the screen.

The stars The impressive cast includes Pride & Prejudice actress Keira Knightley, who plays Anna Karenina. Sherlock Holmes star Jude Law takes the part of Anna's husband, the distinguished statesman Alexei Karenin, while Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass; Nowhere Boy) is Count Vronsky, the dashing young bachelor who seduces Anna.

The early buzz Already tipped for awards. Sarah Dean, writing in The Huffington Post, said that the film "could have Oscar success written all over it", while the Los Angeles Times, considering the fact that Joe Wright and Kiera Knightley's past collaborations had resulted in several Oscar nominations, wrote, "throw in the fact that their latest collaboration is based on a hefty, serious Russian novel (catnip to Oscar voters) and you've got all the makings of a sure thing come awards time".

Insider knowledge The extravagant costumes in the film have clearly proved a hit with fashion retailer Banana Republic, which has asked the film's designer Jacqueline Duran to curate a collection of similar pieces. Consequently, several 19th-century-inspired pieces for men and women (think velvet, faux fur and lace tailored styles) will be on sale this autumn for the public to create their own "Russian aristocrat" looks.

It's great that… a blockbuster film will make Tolstoy's classic love story accessible to a wider audience, including those who might not fancy ploughing through the rather lengthy book…

It's a shame that… this is yet another attempt at bringing to life Anna Karenina, in a history of at least 12 other, relatively unsuccessful, film adaptations. Is there something about it that doesn't quite work as a film?

Hit potential Likely to receive worldwide success rivalling Wright's previous romantic period dramas, Atonement and Pride & Prejudice.

The details Anna Karenina will be in UK cinemas from 7 September.