Joe Wright's visualization of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel about adulterous passion is audacious: Set largely in a theater and deploying archaic 19th-century stagecraft, the actors, and their characters, navigate elegant artifice. The eye is never bored looking at the beautifully imagined sets by Sarah Greenwood, and the dazzling costumes by Jaqueline Durran that evoke the 1880s via Vivienne Westwood. But, it is Tolstoy's sympathetic understanding of human nature, as masterfully adapted by Tom Stoppard, which energizes this film. Keira Knightley is at her very best, as a young woman, already long married, who is surprised by the depths of her lust for an imperious young cavalry officer, Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). She careens heedlessly into an affair, urged on by Vronsky's scandalous mother who reminiscences, "In the end, it's better to wish that I hadn't, than wish that I had."