By guest reviewer Renee A (the loveliest film-buff wench on the planet):
Despite the recent rush for promoting this movie on DVD in time for Mother’s Day (yes Blockbuster, I mean you), the sort of commercial bullshit that usually puts me off wanting to see a movie, I was rather looking forward to seeing this fillum. I hadn’t read the book, but the trailer and the people involved convinced me it was necessary to check it out. I felt some trepidation towards the inclusion of Keira Knightley in the cast – she has in the past given me the irritations, possibly due to the tendency of her omnipresent pout to take over any scene she’s in. But, while the pout was in full force for this film, I found that she was perfect for the role (probably because looking pouty worked for the character), and had fantastic chemistry with James McAvoy, a point that was crucial.
Without giving away too much of the plot, Atonement is about a love affair between Cecilia (Knightley) and Robbie (McAvoy)*, which is interrupted when Cecilia’s younger sister Briony (Saoirse Ronan) lets her childish imagination run away with her and dobs on Robbie for something he didn’t do. He gets sent to gaol, then to war.
The cinematography is stunning (with some beautiful symbolism that will be studied in Year 12 English for years to come) and a score that blends and weaves its way organically into each scene. The use of different points of view and jumps in time are done refreshingly well – if used badly these techniques can be clumsy, irritating and pretentious. In the hands of director Joe Wright they serve only to deepen the impact of the story.
Atonement is in turns passionate, beautiful, heartbreaking, depressing and hopeful. A day later I’m still feeling emotionally raw from the ending, which in my book is a good thing. And finally: bonus points for the best use of a naughty word I’ve ever seen – I dare you not to gasp when you realise what Briony is about to read in Robbie’s note.
I give it four out of five pouty Keira lips.
*Might I just take this opportunity to point out that their sex scene was the best I’ve seen in a movie for a long time. This is due to three main reasons: it was executed well, the chemistry between Knightley and McAvoy was spot on and the scene itself was so integral to the story, not, as with far too many movies these days, added for the extra interest a famous actress getting her kit off will garner.