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Review: Atonement



Zixian talked me into watching this after the LAWR season, so I went in with no idea of the movie, or having read any reviews of the show. Atonement, if you don’t know by now, is a print-to-screen production of the original story by Ian McEwan, which I’ve never read. Starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, and directed by Joe Wright, this is indeed a masterpiece of a film, well worth the 10 bucks on a weekend night.

According to Zixian, as an adaptation, it was lacking because it left out many details from the book – but that is to be expected. I have yet to watch a print-to-screen adaptation that didn’t disappoint me in terms of fidelity to the plot [especially the Harry Potter series]. But as a person who hasn’t read the book, I loved the movie by itself. In purely artistic terms, the cinematography, the acting, and direction were superb. You could feel the exact emotion the characters were feeling in every frame, the varied tensions. I paid good attention to the details, so I could tell the director had done the same thing – in every single shot, which is quite an amazing feat. The movie does not progress in strict chronological order, but instead cuts in and out of Briony’s point of view and then back-tracks to show what led up to that event, from the point of view of Cecilia/Robbie’s.

The soundtrack was beyond excellent – they blended the background noise of the movie with the soundtrack. For example, creating a tense percussive beat with the typewriter sounds, which was entirely appropriate in the cirmcumstance, because the main character, Brioney, as a writer, was carrying over her imagination into real-life with terrible consequences.

I am unable to give a commentary about the story, because a plot analysis can only be carried out with respect to the original book. The story itself is fairly simple – a young girl with an over-active imagination and a broken heart tells a lie, with dire consequences – for which she atones all her life. The only complain I have about the plot is that it was a little draggy when showing what happened during the war.

And onto random bimbotic details: Zixian was very excited about the green dress Keira Knightley was wearing – and while I think the colour is gorgeous, and the design good, Keira did not do it justice, mostly because it was made to be worn by women with more than an A cup. And while I am on subject, can I implore Keira to eat something other than celery sticks? I could count her bones in that dress.

Secondly, they miscast the second Briony Tallis – an 18-year old Briony Tallis would NOT look like her, all dumpy. No I am not discriminating against fat women… it is just extrapolating from the 13-year old Briony Tallis and Keira Knightley/Cecilia.

Overall, I would this is definitely worth watching, if for nothing but appreciation of the artistry of the film.



February 3, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,


  1. “I have yet to watch a print-to-screen adaptation that didn’t disappoint me in terms of fidelity to the plot [especially the Harry Potter series].”

    Why would you be disappointed if a screen adaptation was not completely true to the plot? Disappointed? Surely you don’t ever expect such a thing to happen . . . especially in a film adaptation of a novel?

    Comment by Rosie Powell | February 5, 2008 | Reply

  2. Exactly, I don’t. 🙂 But some films take the non-fidelity too far.

    Comment by pleinelune | February 5, 2008 | Reply

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