Keira Knightley has her critics yet despite their misgivings she has delivered some remarkable performances in a number of astonishingly good films. Here’s 11 that prove this Brit’s Got Talent!
British actress Keira Knightley has accumulated a hugely impressive resume in her 29 years, showing incredible skill and development as an actress, as well as breathtaking movie star looks. With a wonderful aptitude for period pieces, she has a particular talent for portraying brilliant, conflicted and nuanced women – and her depiction of ace cryptanalyst Joan Clarke in The Imitation Game is no exception. To celebrate the home entertainment release of the film on Blu-ray™, DVD and digital platforms on 9th March 2015, courtesy of STUDIOCANAL, we count down some of her most memorable roles.
The Imitation Game (2015)
Based on the true story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, this historical biopic recounts the nail-biting race against time by Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Bletchley Park during World War II. The film spans key periods in Turing’s life, from his unhappy years at boarding school and the triumph of his secret work on the revolutionary electro-mechanical ‘Bombe’, which broke the Enigma code, to the tragedy of his post-war decline following his conviction for a now outdated criminal offence. Knightley provides a superb Oscar-nominated supporting turn as Joan Clarke, a fellow cryptanalyst, and Turing’s close friend and confidante.
Begin Again (2013)
Knightley shows off some impressive singing talents in this enchanting romantic musical drama, based on the hit musical Once. It follows the repercussions after down-and-out music executive Dan (Mark Ruffallo) chances upon young singer-songwriter Gretta (Knightley) at an open-mic night. Gretta, still reeling from the break up with her rock-star ex Dave (Adam Levine), agrees to collaborate with Dan on an album – recording each of the songs in a different location in Manhattan.
Anna Karenina (2012)
The third collaboration between director Joe Wright and Knightley, this adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic novel offered an experimental approach to the source material. Wright chose to set the majority of scenes were shot on a rundown theatre built from scratch in Shepperton. The various locations in the film, such as the train station, and horse stables, were actually built on top of the stage. Knightley takes the lead as the tragic heroine, opposite a stellar cast that includes Jude Law, Domhnall Gleeson, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Emily Watson.
Seeking A Friend for the End of the World (2012)
Seeking a Friend is a confident writing-directing debut for Lorene Scarfaria. As a rose-tinted, romantic view of the end of mankind it is a warm-hearted distraction from the world’s of zombies and post-apocalyptic wastelands. Steve Carell doesn’t have to extend himself here as he’s perfected the nice-guy everyman role so it is left to Knightley to truly excel. And she does. She mixes heartfelt tenderness and youthful innocence with a determined edge and a great vinyl collection.
A Dangerous Method (2011)
Knightley takes on the daring role of Sabina Spielrein in this David Cronenberg-directed historical drama which focuses on the tense professional relationship between Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), as well as Jung’s relationship with Spielrein. Knightley gives a brilliant, sensitive portrayal of the psychologically disturbed Spielrein, who eventually went on to become a talented and respected psychoanalyst in her own right.
Last Night (2010)
This little-known ensemble piece, directed by Massy Tadjedin and starring Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes and Guillaume Canet, offers a slow-burning and understated study on the nature of monogamy. Joanna (Knightley) and Michael Reed (Worthington) are seven years into a happy, stable marriage when he is sent on a business trip with a colleague he is fighting an attraction to (Mendes). That same evening, Joanna runs into an old flame and spends the evening considering how things might have been.
Never Let Me Go (2010)
This haunting, dystopian drama based on Kazuo Ishiguru’s novel of the same name stars Knightley alongside Andrew Garfield and Carey Mulligan, and recounts the lives of Ruth (Knightley), Kathy (Mulligan) and Tommy (Garfield), three friends who grow up together in an idyllic English boarding school. However, after they leave the school the horrific truth of their fate becomes apparent, and they are forced to confront the inevitable, while dealing with the ever-present love triangle hanging over them.
The Duchess (2008)
This biographical drama chronicles the life of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, played by Knightley. A celebrity of the time, Georgiana’s charm, kindness, activism and fashion bring her high regard everywhere she goes. But the oppressive restraints of her controlling husband (Ralph Fiennes) lead her into a passionate affair with the younger Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper) highlighting the stark, appalling differences in treatment between men and women in the aristocracy of the 18th century.
The Edge of Love (2008)
Written by Knightley’s mother, Sharman Macdonald, this historical drama is loosely based on real events, and focuses on the friendship between two married couples- the poet Dylan Thomas (Matthew Rhys) and his wife Caitlin Thomas (Sienna Miller) and Thomas’s old flame Vera Phillips (Knightley) and her husband William Cillick (Cillian Murphy). Both Knightley and Miller garnered rave reviews for their nuanced portrayals of two women whose genuine, close friendship was built on a fragile foundation of suppressed feelings and suspicion.
This heartbreaking wartime drama based on Ian McEwan’s bestselling novel boasts a stellar cast, including Knightley, James McAvoy, Saiorse Ronan, Benedict Cumberbatch and Vanessa Redgrave. When the budding romance between Cecilia Tallis (Knightley) and Robbie Turner (McAvoy) is cut brutally short following a lie told by Bryony Tallis (Ronan), the repercussions span several decades. Knightley provides a masterfully reserved and heartbreaking turn as the stoic Cecilia, and Wright’s tackling of the novel’s twist ending is a particular masterstroke.
Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Joe Wright’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s most famous work earned him a BAFTA for most promising newcomer and follows the trials and tribulations of the five Bennett sisters after two eligible bachelors move into town- Mr Darcy (Matthew MacFayden) and Mr Bingley (Simon Woods). Wright was famously reluctant to cast Knightley in the lead role of Elizabeth Bennett, deeming her ‘too attractive’… until he met her, and realised her tomboyish attitude was ideal for the role. Knightley provides a brilliantly fresh portrayal of a beloved literary character, which led to her first Academy Award nomination.
THE IMITATION GAME arrives on Blu-ray™, DVD and digital platforms on 9th March 2015, courtesy of STUDIOCANAL. – You can read our review here