Joe Wright

The novel was published in the mid-1870s, but how old is Anna Karenina herself? The book places her around 28, though the husband, Karenin, is 20 years her senior. There was a film in 1935, with Garbo, who was 30 at the time, and Basil Rathbone as Karenin, when he was 42. That’s a fair gap, but what was better still, those two seemed to have aged and grown bitter in their marriage. There was another version, in 1948, with Vivien Leigh (35) and Ralph Richardson, who was 46. This time, we have Keira Knightley, 27, and Jude Law, who is 40.

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I was quite irritated with the clumsy way Atonement director Joe Wright and screenwriter Christopher Hampton adapted the already problematic conclusion of Ian McEwan's novel. But Matt Zoller Seitz, I think it's fair to say, is furious: Atonement, Joe Wright's version of Ian McEwan's novel, is visually snappy but emotionally inert, and it distorts the novel's much talked-about, already problematic, extra-narrative twist so profoundly that it left me aghast.

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