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On stage, Knightley has appeared on the West End in Martin Crimp's 2009 production of The Misanthrope, which earned her a nomination for a Laurence Olivier Award.She also starred as the eponymous heroine in the 2015 Broadway production of Thérèse Raquin.
The film's release was delayed on multiple occasions, and upon its eventual release in November, it garnered negative reviews and performed poorly at the box-office.
Knightley, who was initially sceptical of the project, went on to win the London Film Critics' Circle for Best Newcomer and the Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Breakthrough Performance.
In an interview with Tracy Smith she said, "I remember telling friends I was doing this girls' soccer movie [...] And nobody thought that it was gonna be any good." Film critic James Berardinelli, who was largely laudatory of the film and the "energetic and likable" cast, noted that Knightley and Nagra brought "a lot of spirit to their instantly likable characters".
Derek Elley of Variety wrote highly of her performance and screen presence: "Looking every bit a star, Knightley, who's shown more spirit than acting smarts so far in her career really steps up to the plate here".
He regarded her "luminous strength" to be reminiscent of a young Audrey Hepburn.