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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's what makes us human...
Whew! I've just ordered yet another copy of this film for a friend who hasn't yet seen it, and thought I'd glance at the reviews while I was at it...half an hour later, I'm left with such a sense of how very different each one of us truly is, and how differently we view & experience movies! I suppose that we're all looking for different things from them.
I hadn't...
Published on 29 Jan 2011 by Rachel Ashby

versus
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars read the book
if you want to get the best from atonement, please read the book first.the book was one of the best works of fiction i have read.the film version is not one of the best films i have seen.it is not a bad film,but it does not do justice to the book. someone wrote that nothing happened for great quantities of the film and they are right. two thirds of the book deal with the...
Published on 3 Mar 2008 by Mr. M. Bounds


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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's what makes us human..., 29 Jan 2011
By 
Rachel Ashby (Aylesbury, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Whew! I've just ordered yet another copy of this film for a friend who hasn't yet seen it, and thought I'd glance at the reviews while I was at it...half an hour later, I'm left with such a sense of how very different each one of us truly is, and how differently we view & experience movies! I suppose that we're all looking for different things from them.
I hadn't read the book before seeing this film way back in September '07. I've read it since, and despite the immaculate crafting and writing it leaves me cold like so many of Ian McEwan's novels (I keep trying but...sorry)
That I've seen the film 12 times now probably speaks volumes. I remember when I left the cinema after the first time, I felt raw...I couldn't bear anyone to talk to me for about an hour afterwards as I needed time to 'come down' from the emotion. I saw it 4 times on the big screen in total (this isn't unusual for me...if I love a film, I'll watch it several times to squeeze every drop from it - ergo, I've seen The King's Speech 4 times already!) and I have to be careful about watching it now as it can affect me quite strongly still - I just find the emotions, characters, acting so powerful & moving. I wasn't a fan of Keira Knightley before particularly, but after this, The Edge of Love and The Duchess I cannot wait to see her again. James McAvoy is & will continue to be one of our greatest new acting talents...I see only great things ahead for him. Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Benedict Cumberbatch - their body of work before & since 'Atonement' speaks volumes for them too.
Much has been said and debated in these reviews on the story, the cinematography, the accents, the period details...I'm not going to add to that.
Reviews are so, so personal. None are right or wrong, because they are all someone's opinion (although several have made me quite angry, and how 43 people have only awarded it one star is seriously beyond me!)
For what it's worth, Atonement will always be among my Top 5 Movies of All Time. For it's study of wasted youth, of thwarted love,of misinterpretation and misunderstanding, of a golden time that will never come again...the emotion of the cafe scene alone, nothing said, all encompassed in a rattling teaspoon and a completely naked, desperate look..

If you haven't already, just watch it. On a cold, gloomy day with a cup of something hot and an open mind & heart. If you're disappointed...well then, nothing can help you!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stagey but spellbinding!, 12 July 2008
By 
Andy Millward (Tiptree, Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I personally found this a spellbinding movie, though I understand why critics would object. The literary origins are retained through the artifice of a structure essential to conceal the twist in the plot. The downside is that the film is somewhat stagey and stylised, though the author conceals shocks brilliantly. You are somehow aware of the artifice throughout, the reasons for which become apparent at the end.

The country house scenes look very chocolate box, and could easily have been the start of a familiar romantic drama of the Camomile Lawn ilk, but all is thrown into disarray in rapid succession by the use of a taboo word, an act of witnessed passion, the violent rape of a young girl and a false accusation.

What follows is the unfolding drama and the story of the atonement, told in several chapters and centred around the character Briony at three ages - 13, 18 and 77. To give each credit, Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave each give a sparkling turn and look precisely like an older version of their younger selves. Ronan in particular makes a magical job of competing for screen time with the likes of McAvoy, Knightley, Cumberbatch, Kennedy and Walter - and frankly, wins hands down most of the time!

The finest set piece is however Dunkirk. There is a single, intricate shot weaving in and out of the huge and complex array of activity on the beach as McAvoy's Robbie and his two companions try to find their way around. This is masterly film-making and worth the price of the DVD on its own.

The denouement is left in the hands of Vanessa Redgrave, and what a smashing job she makes of it too. Fragile yet playful, wistful yet leaving no doubt of the sincerity of her regrets, this is a fine performance.

McEwan seems blissfully happy with the translation of his novel, and why not? It seems from what people say to have stuck closely to the script in the capable hands of Christopher Hampton. The story is opened out but remains very true to its historical mores and morality. If anything, this makes it even more claustrophobic. Perhaps Hampton could have listened less to McEwan and followed more closely his own instincts to create a vivid big screen vision of McEwan's novel, it could have achieved the golden 5 stars, but even so - pretty darned good!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, 28 Jun 2010
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
It is a delightful film, well paced, with a beautiful background, strong emotions and remarquable actors. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it. I found it just as enjoyable as the book it was adapted from.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to watch, 22 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Brilliant performances from Kiera Knightley, James McAvoy and Romola Garai as Knightley's jealous younger sister.

This is a great film, tragic yet entertaining, and offers a moral lesson on the destructive power of jealousy.

A must see for lovers of drama.
.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising, 26 May 2013
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This review is from: Atonement [DVD] (DVD)
Absolutely beautiful and finely crafted film. IMO Knightley has never been better.
James Mcavoy's performance was similarly excellent.
I watch a lot of horror films, but they are nothing. THIS is the film that actually distresses me for some reason. A great watch, and a film that plays on your mind for days afterwards.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 22 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
What a lovely film but so sad. couldn't stop crying at the end but lovely. Well worth watching again and again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, 17 Feb 2013
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
An absolutely perfect adaptation, while Keira Knightley is often thought for beinpoor her performance in Atonement is faultless as are the rest of the casts. I'm a big fan of films that are stylistically and visually pretty and Atonement fulfills any aesthetic expectations. The story is one of how the misinterpretation of events through the eyes of a thirteen* year old girl determines the course of so many lives. In a sense Atonement is almost epic with it spanning many years, locations and characters. Do not put one the film looking for a light period drama however, the story is heart wrenching as well as beautiful you feel thoroughly drained by the end but i highly doubt you'll regret watching it and may well put yourself through it again and again saying as the film will always be saying 'come back to me'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leaves a big impression, 17 Jan 2013
By 
W. Beckett (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
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At face value, I wouldn't have put this high on my list of must haves! In fact even when I ordered this Digi-book on pure impulse I then cancelled it - only to find that it was too late to do so... Thankfully, I'm now glad that it WAS delivered! Because instead of some Hooray Henry BBC rendition of times gone by - or the vapid eye candy of a vacuous Hollywood action movie, this film actually does present a bloody good memorable and surprising story! Credit to the writers, the actors and perhaps especially to the director who choreographs a scene depicting the evacuation at Dunkirk in one long take soooooo magnificently. I won't spoil the devastating surprise ending for you, except to say that it's based upon the true harsh realities that did cross my mind while watching... All in all, in hindsight, I can't flaw this movie. To those who do trash it as pretentous tosh and factually incorrect obviously overlook the fact that this movie is deliberately constructed and layered to be seen through the initial pernicious eyes of a lovestruck pre-pubsecent young girl - through to her maturing adolenscent guilt - until we finally arrive at her 'Atonement' borne from the wishful romantic hindsights and retrospects of old age! Our memories, wishes and imagination are not always real or factually correct.
Acting wise, Kiera Knightly's stoic expressions actually convey so much to haunt the memory, and James Mcavoy has rightly gone on to carve his niche in subsequent movies. But let's not also forget the course of all those who played Briony Tallis at 3 different ages. Each performance is potent, memorable and telling! Therefore - please - don't be put off by my own initial reservations and any superficial hog-wash reviews that couldn't be bothered to scratch beyond the deliberate narrative of this film being more subjective than objective. Each to his own, but on Blu-Ray the film is also a visual treat without the usual crash and bang or suger coated dross of a Hollywood movie. So if you're prepared to sit still long enough, than you're in for something quite different.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atonement - A superior and moving romance, 5 Dec 2011
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
This sumptuous film follows the story of Robbie (McAvoy), who through the good offices of his employer has the qualities of a gentleman, and the love of Cecilia (Knightly), his employer's daughter. After a terrible crime is committed one night at the stately home where they all live, Robbie is falsely accused by Briony, the somewhat brattish younger sister of Cecilia. After this cataclysmic event all the main players start a search for some form of atonement for all their sins, real or imagined. Robbie is sent off to war in the British Expeditionary Force that was forced to retreat via Dunkirk, Cecilia disowns her family and Briony goes on to become a wartime nurse in London. There is a final twist, set many years after the main events that comes as quite a surprise, and shows just who was seeking Atonement and who achieved it.

This is a beautifully shot, excellently directed film, that builds nicely up to the final climax. The various elements, the country house setting, wartime London, the adventures of Robbie in the BEF and especially Dunkirk are well constructed. They might not be historically totally accurate, but they reflect what was in the mind and imagination of the person narrating the story, and accentuate the idea that it is a recounting of events through someone else's eyes. The actors are uniformly excellent, bringing their characters to life. The one exception is Keira Knightly, not an actress I have ever thought highly of, who is a bit wooden at times. McAvoy manages to supply enough intensity in their all important scenes together to cover up for her lack though.

In all a moving and excellently portrayed romance with a quality added layer of depth. A solid 4 stars.
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61 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Adaptation, 28 Dec 2007
By 
T. S. Waddington (Northampton) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Following the success of Pride and Prejudice, director Joe Wright brings to the screen a far more ambitious literary adaptation of the best selling and critically acclaimed novel by Ian McEwan, Atonement.

The film follows the effects of a lie by a young, imaginative girl Briony, played impressively in her first major screen role by Saoirse Ronan, on her, her sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and the Housekeeper's son Robbie (James McAvoy). It begins in a large country house in an England approaching the brink of war. Here we see the beginning of a romance between Cecilia and Robbie. The first signs of this blossoming romance are witnessed by us and Briony from a distance and it is the beginning of a misunderstanding that leads to tragedy. Far from being a standard period drama as some, including myself, may expect prior to viewing, Atonement establishes itself as an excellent film that manages to stay loyal to the novel whilst still exploiting all its cinematic potential. Joe Wright demonstrates his skill in storytelling and brings his own artistic slant to the tale establishing himself as the highly skilled director his previous film only hinted at.

The world we are immersed into is convincingly created, a country naively living before the most devastating war in history. The costumes are authentic as is the dialogue, exemplified when the boring names of English war foods are ridiculed. Keira Knightley gives one of her best performances to date as the beautiful posh girl with the tough exterior and James McAvoy follows on from his Last King of Scotland success with a solid, if slightly plain performance as Robbie the working class man living with the aristocracy. The chemistry between the two is appropriately understated as they attempt to hang on to their few precious moments together through long periods of separation.

The atmosphere in the opening scenes is languid but there is an underlying sense of doom as the events unravel and Wright excels as a director as he manipulates the audience with clever narrative techniques. As the film continues his style becomes more standard, however the standout scene of the film is on the beaches of the Dunkirk retreat. It is brilliantly shot as we follow Robbie and his two companions in a swirling walk around the activity surrounding them. The hope and despair of the war sick men is portrayed perfectly in this scene, as a shocking moment where the horses are shot in the head due to the inability to transport them is contrasted by a group of singing men who demonstrate the power of the human will in the face of adversity. I found it refreshing to see a war film that didn't resort to a battle to provide its thrills and this scene is easily as spectacular and effective at showing the effects of war as the Omaha landings in Saving Private Ryan. Despite there not being any set-piece battle sequences, the horrors of war are still shown in a scene in the hospital where the horrendous injuries of the soldiers are uncomfortably forced upon the viewer.

The ending is masterfully crafted and the twist is successful because it provides the audience with both of the possible endings, either of which on their own would not have been particularly satisfactory on their own. Vanessa Redgrave gives the standout performance as the old Briony as she recalls the life changing events. Also the idea of authorship is cunningly played with as the film questions the adequacy of its own ending.
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Atonement [DVD] [2007]
Atonement [DVD] [2007] by Joe Wright (DVD - 2008)
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