Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Atonement


I just returned from watching the hot (critically) new British film, Atonement. Based on a novel by Ian McEwan, this story of the horrific results of a teenager’s spiteful action is magnificently filmed by Joe Wright (who previously did such a great job with Pride and Prejudice).

James McAvoy (who performed so well in The Last King of Scotland) and Keira Knightley do a superb job of acting in the lead roles, making us feel the emotions of the characters in just the right way, though Saoirse Ronan as the thirteen-year old Briony outshines them both. The cinematography and music are likewise perfect for the film, which is primarily set in England between 1935 and 1940.

The film begins and ends brilliantly, with the first 50 minutes providing an example of near-perfect film-making. In fact, the film’s only real flaw is that it didn’t continue that opening day’s scene a little longer, because once the action shifts to the war, it begins to drag a bit and we could have used more background on what happened “back at the house”. Still, the cinematography in the middle of the film is breath-taking.

So how do you atone for a vicious mistake that hurts others so badly? The film’s clever ending (and presumably the book’s) provides an interesting answer. It also movingly conveys the perpetrator’s lifelong suffering.

Atonement is a great film. Don’t miss it. ***+ (verging on four). My mug is raised high on this one.

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