Atonement (UK/France, 2007)

MV5BMTM0ODc2Mzg1Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTg4MDU1MQ@@._V1_SX640_SY720_Directed by: Joe Wright. Like the last Joe Wright thing I saw, Pride and Prejudice, I’m not really sure why I wanted to see this. I saw the ads for the movie when it came out, and the British-ness, war-ness, and doomed romance angle all kind of appealed to me a little bit, and, being in the throes of an unhealthy and expensive bout of bibliophilia, I actually bought the damn book without knowing anything about it (and it remains unread on my shelf). And although I did enjoy this movie, I’m not rushing to that book anytime soon. (I’m sure it’s nice, but I don’t know). But the movie was pretty cool, a pretty original take on the whole star-crossed lovers thing, with some dark, dark stuff at its center. I think that’s what drew me to it: it looks like some fluffy period-piece garbage. James McAvoy and Keira in the lead roles, this could really go either way, right? But this was a really interesting movie, with great acting all around—McAvoy and Keira are great in this, Benny Cumbatch plays a convincing pedo/rapist/businessman (maybe it’s the pedo moustache), Juno Temple is pretty good in this (but remembering how fucking amazing she was in Killer Joe shows how underused she was in this pretty small role),  Romola Garai from The Hour is fine but not great, a bit on the nose (a trend I’m noticing with her), but Saoirse Ronan is fucking fantastic, and really the whole movie revolves around her gravity in that small appearance (only the first 20 minutes or so of screentime, but it’s the most important 20 minutes of performance in the whole thing, and stronger, I think, than the performances of either McAvoy or Keira). The war scenes are some of the most original, surreal, bizarre CGI war scenes I’ve seen, and the (SPOILERS) lack of a happy resolution is in this case incredibly satisfying. The only really bad thing I can say about the movie is the ending, the final few minutes where we’re just looking at the girl’s face, now an old woman telling her story on a TV talk show, talking about her novel, also called Atonement (turns out!), and we’re just looking at her face in a frontal close up, like a TV talk show. I know it’s Vanessa Redgrave, and she’s great and everything, but I wish the filmmakers had thought of some more compelling way to convey that stuff. Maybe I should read the book.

2 responses to “Atonement (UK/France, 2007)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2014 | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: Black Mass (USA, 2015) | Offhand Reviews·

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