Monday, February 3, 2014


On a hot summer afternoon on an English country manor in the quiet days before World War II, a precocious girl (Saoirse Ronan followed by Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave during later stages of the film) misinterprets incidents taking place between her older sister (Keira Knightley at her most radiant) and the family's gardener (James McAvoy) and, through one callous mistake, forever alters the course of all three of their lives. Atonement is a sumptuously mounted film from Joe Wright who, with screenwriter Christopher Hampton, takes Ian McEwan's remarkable and impeccably structured book and translates it to the screen with as much adeptness and carrying as much, if not more, emotional weight. From the idyllic early passages at the country home, to the famous five minute tracking shot at the beach at Dunkirk, to the gut wrenching final revelation (which should serve as an instructional for twist happy movie makers), Atonement is a triumph on every level.