Synopsis – Thirteen-year-old fledgling writer Briony Tallis irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit – Atonement
Director – Joe Wright
Released – 2007
For fans of – Dunkirk, Anna Karenina, On Chesil Beach
Based on British author Ian McEwan’s 2001 novel of the same name, Atonement is split into three distinct parts. First, and no doubt the part that feels closest to the film’s marketing, an inter-class love set before the breakout of WWI. The second, a compact yet well-done war segment. And thirdly you get the most nuanced and gripping of the three, showcasing how one simple lie can reverberate throughout the decades, tainting the lives of several people forever.
All of the above makes this a rather packed plot, which works in novel form, but not so much for a movie, as there are too many moving parts to fully show on-screen, yet this doesn’t mate Atonement a bad movie, because it isn’t. One of its greatest strengths is how visually stimulating the movie looks, to which veteran cinematographer Seamus McGarvey deserves huge credit.
Praise should also be heaped upon director Joe Wright who found a way to turn Ian McEwan’s story into a memorable and touching drama, feeling confident enough to take risks with the camera work and script. But most importantly he found a way to get the best out of the talented group of actors, especially Kiera Knightly, who he has worked with on multiple occasions and a young Saoirse Ronan who shines as the troublemaking sister.
Overall Atonement is a solid film filled with beautiful imagery and great attention to detail, however, it fails to live up to the high bar set by the novel and might have been better severed as a trilogy of movies, rather than attempting to cram so many plot points onto one. That said, it still has enough about it t make this interesting and enjoyable to watch.