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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stagey but spellbinding!
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...
Published on 12 July 2008 by Andy Millward

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2.0 out of 5 stars Only for the faint hearted
I understand how the book was devoured by all those who know about misconceptions and how they can affect lives. Such deep-down mistakes are not normally fodder for the world of cinema and film. Atonement makes no attempt at re-inventing itself as a film.

It is a film so slight as to be almost unperceivable. Forty minutes before anything happens. I made a cup...
Published on 2 Mar. 2008 by W. Rodick


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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
(REAL NAME)   
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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2.0 out of 5 stars Only for the faint hearted, 2 Mar. 2008
By 
W. Rodick (Cheshire, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I understand how the book was devoured by all those who know about misconceptions and how they can affect lives. Such deep-down mistakes are not normally fodder for the world of cinema and film. Atonement makes no attempt at re-inventing itself as a film.

It is a film so slight as to be almost unperceivable. Forty minutes before anything happens. I made a cup of tea. Boys and girls playing in a castle of foreboding. I reach for the Hob Nobs. Damn, the male lead is taken in a police car. A little girl watches. Thumping soundtrack. Allusions quarry. It's all jolly good. Show. 81 minutes and snoring. Rose-tinted spectacles re-writing the past by numbers. Terribly academic. Cack. A twist in the tale: Vanessa Redgrave is still alive.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Film, 7 May 2014
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I first saw this film a few years ago and thought it ok. Having re-watched it again I would up my original opinion and say that this is a wonderful film.

The film has an authentic feel all the way through. The atmosphere in the large family house and estate at the beginning of the film looks convincing. I was really pleased with the acting, the sets and the cinematography.

Northern France and battle scarred Dunkirk, war time London and the 1940's St. Thomas's Hospital all contributed as a very fine backdrop to a well woven story of love, loss and ultimate redemption/atonement.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Great, 29 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Joe Wright's adaptation of Ian McEwan's beautiful novel is a passionately romantic account of how childhood feelings, betrayals and misunderstandings lead to the collapse of adult relationships. It is a film which has all many of the hallmarks of classic British movies; a hot summer in a country mansion; the ravages of war and class tension.

It is a lavishly directed film; the choice of shots superb. The close ups of Briony as she delivers her evidence without pause or hesitation; the views of the evacuation of Dunkirk shot in a beautiful warm summer's glow allowing the whole scenario a surrealsitic quality. The pace of the film and the changes in tempo are impressive. The music which is sentimental and romantic underscores the irony of the failures of love which the film reveals.

I enjoyed the quality of the acting this work, particularly in the claustrophobic country-house scenes at the start. The brevity of the adaptation did mean that some characters did feel rather lightweight and I missed the characterisation that the novel was able to develop.

The last scenes of the film do however leave a feeling of dissatisfaction; as an audience we have been asked to accept a premise only for it to be swept away- it's not that the ending doesn't work only that it makes you question the validity of all you have seen before.
The sense of doubt and uncertainty is annoying because this is a fine film .
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars read the book, 3 Mar. 2008
By 
Mr. M. Bounds "boundsy65" (england) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
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 build up to the crime and i am afraid this doesnt make for good viewing and in my view the build up to the arrest in the film was a bit rushed.i dont think the acting was particularly good. kiera knightley is not a good actress.it is beyond me why she is in continuous employment.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One man's interpretation, 28 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Atonement [DVD] [2007]As director Joe Wright said, there are as many interpretations of Atonement as there are readers of the book or viewers of the film, which is why I kept saying, "No, you don't get it" as I read through these reviews, favourable and otherwise. And the film itself is about people looking at the same events through different eyes. We have Briony, a 13-year-old who spends much of her time writing romantic stories, her prim, upper middle class attitude being, "Love is all very well, but you have to be sensible." It being 1935, her sexual knowledge is limited. Her grown-up sister Cecilia and lifelong friend Robbie have got the hots for one another and are behaving accordingly, but from the child's point of view it looks disgusting and she concludes that Robbie is a predatory monster from whom her sister needs protecting. When she comes across her 15-year-old cousin being raped in the grounds of their mansion, and sees the attacker running off in the dark, she convinces herself that it was Robbie. Who else could it be? He's the sex maniac around the place. So she tells the police that it was definitely him and he gets carted off to prison.
The actual culprit is operating under everybody's radar. He's come to the house as a guest of big brother Leon, probably hoping that he's got a chance with Cecilia, but his charms, such as they are, don't make her go weak at the knees (Those who think that Keira Knightley can't act should look at the movie again and observe the subtlety with which she conveys this). The 15-year-old is impressed by him so he makes some sort of move on her (implied rather than shown in the film), leaving her with bruises on her arm which she blames on her younger brothers.
None of the adults cottons on to what's happening; mother is laid low by migraine, Leon never thinks ill of anyone, and Cecilia and Robbie are absorbed in each other. The rape takes place from behind, and while the victim initially thinks it must be the same man who pounced on her earlier, Briony's version of events relieves her of having to make an accusation against him. Robbie is a servant's son and it suits people to believe that someone from the lower orders has committed the crime.
Cecilia, who stays loyal to Robbie throughout, doesn't understand what's going on in her little sister's mind and thinks she's just being over-imaginative. Robbie, looking back afterwards, thinks she made the accusation because she once had a crush on him and was rebuffed.
The whole story then moves forward to the Second World War, with Robbie out of prison and a soldier in France, and with Cecilia still in love with him, while 18-year-old Briony is a probationer nurse in London. Briony has realised her error and wants to do something about it. She is also developing her writing skills on her way to becoming a novelist. I won't tell you the rest of it except to say that at the end of her life, she is still constructing her own version of reality. As James McAvoy, who plays Robbie, says in the excellent bonus material on the dvd, this is not just a story about a romance but also a story about storytelling. Telling a lie is telling a story; it's making something up, which is what Briony, as a novelist, spends her life doing. The film is about the nature of storytelling, why we tell stories and the effect they can have on people.
I think that this is all put across beautifully. James McAvoy is outstanding as Robbie, a lovely man full of integrity. Keira Knightley plays a Cecilia who's a bit of a snob and therefore, one suspects, annoyed with herself for being attracted to Robbie, but once she makes the commitment she stands by him. People seem to like to be bitchy about Keira Knightley and to be honest, I think she's only as good as whoever's directing her, but in this case that's damn good. Saoirse Ronan has the job of playing a cold loner of a child with a desire to "have the world just so", as Ian McEwan puts it in the novel, but also someone whose motives we can understand. Her deserved Oscar nomination is a testament to how well she pulled it off. The way that the actors playing her older selves, Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave, achieve the continuity is excellent. Benedict Cumberbatch is brilliant as an ingratiating sexual predator, but I wasn't always sold on Juno Temple as his victim, the child who wants to be an adult.
This is not a movie for someone with a short attention span. Everything in the script is there for a reason. Some reviewers seem to have been irritated by the time shifts but I think they are well done, particularly in two scenes where we are shown the same events from the child's point of view, then from Robbie's and Cecilia's. A student of the Second World War can pick holes in the Dunkirk section, just as a train enthusiast could probably pick holes in The Railway Children and a zoologist could have a field day with Aesop's fables but like them, this is a STORY. Geddit?
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What's all the fuss about?, 7 Mar. 2008
By 
Sue Lewendon "Film fanatic" (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I am a woman who loves a good romance story and I don't care when or where it takes place, from Gone With The Wind and Jane Eyre to Bridget Jones and Brokeback Mountain. I sat down to watch this film with a great sense of excitement after all the hype I'd read and heard about, including it's oscar nominations. Imagine my dispair when I found out that it was all just that...hype.

I have given this film two stars and these are simply for James McAvoy and Saoirse Ronan. The story is good enough but the portrayal of the other characters left me wanting a hell of a lot more. They seemed lifeless compared to McAvoy and Ronan. I was glad to find that Keira Knightley was hardly in it and can't for the life of me think why ANYONE would expect her to be nominated for an Acadamy Award, I'm just glad she wasn't! All she does is pout and talk posh and in my eyes she's no more talented than my little toe! (Ok, rant over!)

Ronan is exceptional as the young sister of Knightley and I was totally engrossed by her screen presence. I foresee great things from her in the future and she well deserves any recognition she may well receive. I found myself feeling drawn to McAvoy's character too. He plays it very well.

My hubby fell asleep during this film and that doesn't happen very often. He woke up just before the end and said exactly what I was thinking..."Well, the search for the worst film of the year is over!"

If you're looking for a fantastic movie look elsewhere!
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26 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An OK adaptation of a brilliant bool, 10 July 2008
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Right, well, as a massive fan of the book, I must admit that I approached this with caution. Fear, to be honest, of how the dreaded Keira Knightley would attack another literary charcter (her 'interpretation' of Lizzie Bennett as a pouting, 'I'll just say my lines fast so they sound witty' skeleton is still a wonder to me).

And it's fine. I think the direction is superb, as is the adaptation - an impossible task really, of capturing such a 'big' novel on screen, and I think it's handled with extreme care by director and screenwriter, so well done to them both.

The two leads are wrong, however. McAvoy is an excellent actor, but has been badly miscast as Robbie - in the novel there is something very manly about him; his working-class background must be apparent, since it is that which distances him from Cecilia. That is why she has never considered him as a potential partner, and, more importantly, it is why the whole family so easily turn on him, and so easily believe that he could have committed the 'crime' that occurs. Without this tension, it immediately creates a major flaw in the narrative.

As for Knightley, she's not as bad as she has been, but my god, the woman can't even say dialogue convincigly, how she's still a working actress I'll never know.

So, if you enjoyed the film, I very much recommend the book - I think you'll find it altogether a more rewarding experience.

An adequate adaptation.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but not worth the hype, 11 Mar. 2008
By 
M. Matthews "mikematt101" (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Atonement is probably one of those films where a viewer will get more out of it if he or she has read the novel it is based on. Alas I have not read Ian McEwan's book and as a result I found the film enjoyable but hardly an instant classic, as some critics would have us believe. The plot is paper thin (my wife, who has read the book, says that this is also true of the novel, but that this is more than compensated for by McEwan's extraordinary writing) which makes the film feel a little tedious. The acting is also somewhat patchy - James McAvoy, Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave are all first-rate, but the perpetually over-rated Knightley is irritating right from the start - she is wooden, mumbles much of her dialogue ... and don't even get me started on her appearance! I really fail to see what the fuss is about her. The film looks great, though, and there is a nice 'twist' (if you can call it that) at the end. I'd happily watch it again, but don't believe the hype.
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25 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All the ingredients but sadly lacking..., 28 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
This has all the ingredients for what should be a stunningly beautiful and moving film. The photography and score are equisite, the acting is excellent and the plot has everything- love, betrayal, loss, war, suffering and hope. Considering all this, I'm still wondering why this film had absolutely zero effect on me whatsoever!

As another reviewer has mentioned, I did not have any empathy with the leading characters- celia and Robbie; and to be honest, wasn't really that bothered that by the end their tragic love story had a sad ending. I'm not sure why I didn't care as the acting was excellent but I think that the characters were lacking a "human" element that allows the audience to start to feel for them and identify with them. For starters, Keira Knightly's character came across as totally posh, arrogant, cold and aloof and not someone whom I would imagine would indulge in a passionate affair or have any warmth at all. The leading man, Robbie, I also felt was somewhat unemotional and even when they both say "I love you" to each other, frankly, I just didn't belieeve it- there was no chemistry there. Sorry to go against the grain but this just left me cold considering the rave reviews its had. As soon as I finished watching the film I had forgotten it which in my opinion is a sign of a poor film....
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Atonement [DVD] [2007]
Atonement [DVD] [2007] by Joe Wright (DVD - 2008)
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