Picks and Pans Review: Anna Karenina

updated 02/19/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/19/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

PBS (Sun., Feb.18 and 25, 9 p.m. ET)

She found him disturbingly attractive when they met in Moscow. Now Anna (Helen McCrory) sees that Count Vronsky (Kevin McKidd) is following her on the trip back to St. Petersburg and her priggish husband (Stephen Dillane). "Why are you here?" Anna asks. "You know why," Vronsky replies, his gaze as frank as his words. "To be with you."

The language is straightforward, the sex scenes are surprisingly hot, and some of the camera moves suggest a contemporary thriller more than a costume drama. All good reasons for PBS to tout this well-acted Exxon Mobil Masterpiece Theatre miniseries as a "stunningly modern" take on Tolstoy's 1870s masterpiece. But in faithfulness to the novel, the film divides its attention between Anna's tragic affair and the union of her innocent in-law Kitty (Paloma Baeza) and the emotional landowner Levin (Douglas Henshall). Though Levin and Kitty are rich characters on their own, you may grow impatient to return to the main event.

Bottom Line: No dust on this classic

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