I thought that this review was very fair, in particular as regards the choice of Morag Hood for the role of Natasha. Although she's a fine, sensitive actress, who sings and dances well, at 30 she was way too old to play Natasha ! As a result, she lacked the radiance and the poetic charm that so " intoxicated " and revitalized such a reserved and dry person as Prince Andrey. During that scene where she sings for Andrey, we find ourselves a little incredulous that " when he looks at her ", he " could weep " and " feel as if his life is yet not over ". And when she plays Natasha at 13, she looks ridiculous, bouncing around and laughing like a mad-woman !
In my opinion, they should have picked 2-3 actresses to play the part : a young adolescent to play Natasha at that stage, a 20-22 year-old to play Natasha starting with the ball and until Andrey's death, and then a plump 30-year-old to play her in the Epilogue. Or, they could have at least put some make-up and facial cream on her to reduce the dryness and make her look more youthful and radiant ! And what's with the drab dresses she wore, that only accentuated her age ???
However, the sincere effort that she put into the part is very commendable !
With regard to Alan Dobie, he was a good choice for the part of Andrey and had some excellent scenes ( such as the one described above ), but I felt that his character should have been more developed, with more subtlety and depth. Since he represents Tolstoy's views on death, the death scene should have been played and filmed more dramatically, with the internal monologues more drawn-out and thoughtful. But otherwise, I enjoyed watching Dobie in that part ; I wish he got better direction !
On the whole, I wish there were better choices for the roles of Marya, Nikolai Rostov, the old Bolkonsky ; however, as the series progressed, they became more believable and even funny ( old Bolkonsky ).
My overall comment is that some scenes could have been shortened ( ie. Pierre getting drunk with Ramballe --- who needs that ? ) to allow for more character development ( as in the case of Andrey ).