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From the award-winning director of Pride & Prejudice comes a stunning, critically acclaimed epic story of love. When a young girl catches her sister in a passionate embrace with a childhood friend, her jealousy drives her to tell a lie that will irrrevocably change the course of all their lives forever. Academy Award nominee Keira Knightley and James McAvoy lead an all-star cast in the film critics are calling "the year's best picture" (Thelma Adams, US Weekly).
On a sultry summer day in 1935, an upper-class British family prepares for a dinner party at their country estate. The players: Briony Tallis (newcomer Saoirse Ronan), a precocious preteen writer; her older sister, Cecilia (Keira Knightley), Cambridge graduate and femme fatale; Robbie Turner (James McEvoy), the housekeeper's mensch-y son, who carries a torch for Cecilia; and various visitors and family members. A series of misperceptions, fueled by the summer heat and Briony's childish hurts and fevered imagination, lead to a dramatic false accusation that lands Robbie in jail. We meet all three characters five years later in the thick of World War II, as foot soldier Robbie prepares for the Dunkirk evacuation and the two estranged sisters train as nurses in London.^Director Joe Wright (PRIDE AND PREJUDICE) deserves high praise for translating Ian McEwan's highly internalized, multilayered tale of guilt, redemption, and the power and limits of the artistic imagination, into a sumptuous visual feast that not only conveys the intricate plot points of the novel, but dives head-first into the emotional subtleties that make the story so wrenching. Whether any of the characters' actions are ultimately atoned for by the end of the film is a matter of perception, but Wright's sympathetic eye ensures that every player gets a fair trial. The young director favors long, lingering close-ups that trace every flicker of feeling--Ronan's luminous blue eyes clouding over with righteous gravity; the tremors of hurt and anger and love in McEvoy's sensitive face; the defiant jut of Knightley's jaw as it melts into tender affection. The honey-drizzled look of the first two-thirds of the film contrasts achingly with the tension and seriousness of the action unfolding (and the grim intensity of the wartime sections), and the scenes on the beach at Dunkirk include some of the most masterly camera work of any recent film. ATONEMENT is a powerful story, retold in a way that even diehard fans of the book will appreciate.
4 stars out of 5 -- "The cast measure up to the material....Knightley's sizzling allure has never been better captured..." 10/01/2007 p.50
4 stars out of 5 -- "ATONEMENT is serious, sexy, profound, bitter and bold." 10/01/2007 p.129
5 stars out of 5 -- "An adaptation every bit as good as the novel -- complex, delicate and devastating." 10/01/2007 p.38
Sight and Sound
"Where the film is true to the book's spirit...is in its faith in the power of storytelling, the momentous sweep of history and heartache..." 10/01/2007 p.49
"[A] beautifully composed and richly satisfying adaptation of Ian McEwan's modern novel ATONEMENT....So good it redeems our faith in intelligent drama." 12/01/2007 p.57
"ATONEMENT the movie is beautifully photographed, and McAvoy and Knightley are excellent." 12/07/2007
4 stars out of 4 -- "Written, directed and acted to perfection, ATONEMENT sweeps you up on waves of humor, heartbreak and ravishing romance." 12/13/2007 p.141,Ranked #2 in Rolling Stone's "10 Best Movies Of 2007" -- "Christopher Hampton brings Ian McEwan's 2002 novel to the screen with all of its fierce challenges intact." 12/27/2007 p.120
"[The] movie is abundantly attractive, every scene serenely composed..." -- Grade: B 12/07/2007 p.54-55
Los Angeles Times
"An assured and deeply moving work, ATONEMENT is at once one of the most affecting of contemporary love stories and a potent meditation on the power of fiction to destroy and create, to divide and possibly heal." 12/07/2007
Wall Street Journal
"ATONEMENT is romantic, intelligent and finally shattering in its sweep and thematic complexity." 12/11/2009
British Academy Awards, Tim Bevan, et. al., Best Film,British Academy Awards, Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer, Best Production Design,Golden Globe, Atonement, Best Motion Picture - Drama,Golden Globe, Dario Marianelli, Best Original Score - Motion Picture,Oscar, Dario Marianelli, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
Oscar, Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer, Best Achievement in Art Direction,Oscar, Seamus McGarvey, Best Achievement in Cinematography,Oscar, Jacqueline Durran, Best Achievement in Costume Design,Oscar, Tim Bevan, et. al., Best Motion Picture of the Year,Oscar, Saoirse Ronan, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role,Oscar, Christopher Hampton, Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Venice Film Festival, Joe Wright, Prize of the Forum for Cinema and Literature
Joe Wright's interpretation of Ian McEwan's Atonement proves that, when it comes to literary adaptations, he understands what he's doing. Wright's previous feature was Pride and Prejudice, a significantly happier production than this one (although both are love stories)...Briony is played by three actresses: Saorise Ronan as a 13-year old, Romola Garai as an 18-year old, and Vanessa Redgrave as an old woman. Great care is taken to make Ronan and Garai look alike and have similar mannerisms. Redgrave doesn't appear much like either, but she's like Meryl Streep or Glenn Close - if you can get her in a movie, you don't sweat the details...Atonement is a tragic story regardless of whether it's presented in book form or movie form. The film is more quickly and urgently paced than the book and the dissonant music, which uses a typewriter as a percussive instrument, keeps the audience on edge. Atonement is effective at getting under the skin, and some audience members won't like that. Overall, it's a finely crafted motion picture - perhaps not the equal of Wright's Austen adaptation, but strong enough to make it worth seeing for fans of the book and the genre.
"Atonement" begins on joyous gossamer wings, and descends into an abyss of tragedy and loss...Each period and scene in the movie is compelling on its own terms, and then compelling on a deeper level as a playing out of the destiny that was sealed beside the fountain on that perfect summer's day. It is only at the end of the film, when Briony, now an aged novelist played by Vanessa Redgrave, reveals facts about the story that we realize how thoroughly, how stupidly, she has continued for a lifetime to betray Cecilia, Robbie and herself...The structure of the McEwan novel and this film directed by Joe Wright is relentless. How many films have we seen that fascinate in every moment and then, in the last moments, pose a question about all that has gone before, one that forces us to think deeply about what betrayal and atonement might really entail?...Wright, who also directed Knightley in his first film, "Pride and Prejudice," shows a mastery of nuance and epic, sometimes in adjacent scenes. In the McEwan novel, he has a story that can hardly fail him and an ending that blindsides us with its implications. This is one of the year's best films, a certain best picture nominee.
DVD, English, Spanish, Dolby, Digital Audio, Dolby Digital (5.1), No Longer Produced
Connie Ogle, Miami Herald
The interpretation is so painstaking and moving that almost every moment delivers a shuddering jolt to the head and the heart.
Derek Elley, Variety
Rarely has a book sprung so vividly to life, but also worked so enthrallingly in pure movie terms, as with Atonement...
Helen O'Hara, Empire
Gorgeous cinematography, a lilting score and near-faultless performances, under Wright's assured direction...
J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader
Atonement is that rare combo: a good movie based on a good book.
Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
A singular achievement -- romantic, sensuous, intelligent and finally shattering in its sweep and thematic complexity.
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
An unforgettable examination of a host of dark impulses.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Written, directed and acted to perfection, Atonement sweeps you up on waves of humor, heartbreak and ravishing romance.