Keira Knightley may have arrived in Venice to promote her latest film, but it is her shrinking frame that is attracting all the attention.
The actress looked tinier than ever as she attended a press conference before then attending the opening of Atonement at the Venice Film Festival.
Knightley, who adamantly denied reports of an eating disorder last year, looked shockingly gaunt as she posed for photographers in a full length white and navy gown.
Later, the 22-year-old actress took to the red carpet in a stunning silver diamante Chanel gown with a pink sash around the waist for the world premiere of Atonement, for which she has already been tipped for an Oscar.
The actress has said she wanted to appear in the film - in which her fledgling love affair is destroyed by a tragic misunderstanding - because she ‘loves a bit of romance’. Venice, with its canals, provided the perfect romantic backdrop. Sadly, the star’s partner, the actor Rupert Friend, was not on her arm.
The film is an adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel set around the Second World War.
Knightley plays Cecilia Tallis, an upper class young woman whose fledgling love affair with the housekeeper’s son (James McAvoy) is destroyed by a tragic misunderstanding.
The actress, whose curves were once digitally enhanced for a film poster for King Arthur in 2004, earlier spoke out in defence of celebrities who have their physical imperfections corrected with the help of an airbrush.
Asked if she thought that sent out the right message to women, Miss Knightley argued that she was in the fiction business - and just as movies are all about fiction, so posters and magazine pictures are too.
“Films particularly deal with fantasy,” she said. “There is a danger that happens when the line between fiction and fact gets blurred.
“Magazine pictures, for example, are fiction. One person has done the make-up, the hair, someone else does clothes and it is all choreographed by someone else.”
However, she added that she would also like to see more variety in the type of person used in advertising campaigns.
Among the other competitors are: Sleuth, a remake of the 1972 whodunnit directed by Kenneth Branagh with Jude Law and Michael Caine in the title roles; It’s A Free World, Ken Loach’s study of migrant labour in the UK; and Nightwatching, Peter Greenaway’s Rembrandt mystery featuring Martin Freeman.
Other films in contention include Michael Clayton, a legal thriller starring George Clooney, and I’m Not There, in which the likes of Richard Gere and Cate Blanchett play Bob Dylan.
Westerns feature strongly at the festival - Brad Pitt is expected in Venice for the premiere of his new film, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, while Quentin Tarantino has helped put together a programme paying homage to the spaghetti western.
This year’s competition also features two films which tackle the war in Iraq.
Brian De Palma’s Redacted is a montage of stories about the conflict and is said to be highly critical of the Bush administration.
In The Valley of Elah stars Charlize Theron, Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon and tells of a soldier who goes missing after returning from Iraq.
Scarlett Johansson is expected to attend the premiere of The Nanny Diaries, while Woody Allen film Cassandra’s Dream will premiere with an appearance by its stars, Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor.
(Nip and tuck: A frail-looking Joely Richardson also appeared at the film festival with mother Vanessa Regrave)
Actress Joely Richardson, who starred in US television programme Nip Tuck also appeared to have taken her fitness regime to extremes, as she showed off her ultra-thin look on the red carpet.
Tim Burton, director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands, is to be honoured with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement.
The winning film and prizes for best director, actor and actress will be announced on September 8.
Last year, Dame Helen Mirren was crowned best actress for her performance in The Queen.