New on Blu-ray: Atonement (2007) – 4/5 Stars


If one were taking a course on how to appropriately adapt a novel for the big screen, “Atonement’ would certainly need to be among the required materials. Though I personally have never read McEwan’s novel, the attention to detail that Joe Wright and his team bring to telling this story visually is superb.

“Atonement” is the story of a young girl named Briony (played well by three actresses at different ages of her life) with a very incurable appetite and curiosity for plot and drama, enough so that she tells a lie that separates her sister Cecilia (Knightley) from her newly discovered love of Robbie (McAvoy), the son of their mansion’s grounds keeper. The rest of the film is the consequences of Briony’s actions and her struggle to forgive herself for what she did.

The acting is top notch, but not as deserving of accolades as the production crew and the minds behind the cinematic telling of this story. The art direction and Wright’s choices are simple and beautiful and most notably is Dario Marianelli’s original score that is both creative and effective, particularly in the beginning and end of the film.

The only thing holding “Atonement” back is the middle of the film, which lacks attention- grabbing substance. The symbolism is all over the place, but the plot lacks a distinct something during the point in which Robbie and Cecilia are separated to really grip the viewer as the film’s wonderful ending reveals itself. I can’t believe that I would be the only one who really needed more convincing of the love and passion between them.

That said, the story is still Briony’s story at heart, hence the film’s title, and her story is told with brilliance. Unfortunately, the aforementioned middle part keeps her out of the story for a significant amount of time. The film, therefore, requires patience and really keen eye for the the subtlety that makes a film more than just a story told with a camera.

4/5 Stars

Atonement (2007)
Directed by: Joe Wright
Written by: Christopher Hampton, Ian McEwan (novel)
Starring: Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Saoirse Ronan


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