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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Movie Review-Atonement

Keira Knightley and James McAvoy star in Atonement, a period drama based on Ian McEwans best-selling novel of the same name.  Photo courtesy Focus Features
Keira Knightley and James McAvoy star in Atonement, a period drama based on Ian McEwan’s best-selling novel of the same name. Photo courtesy Focus Features

By Sara Pintilie/entertainment editor

Atonement (5 stars)

Keira Knightley and James McAvoy star in Atonement, a period drama based on Ian McEwan's best-selling novel of the same name.  Photo courtesy Focus Features
Keira Knightley and James McAvoy star in Atonement, a period drama based on Ian McEwan’s best-selling novel of the same name. Photo courtesy Focus Features

The sound of a typewriter begins Atonement’s life. A piano joins the mechanical clicking as Briony (Saoirse Ronan) wanders though her English countryside home.

Later, she stumbles across her sopping-wet sister, Cecilia (Keira Knightley), and a servant, Robbie (James McAvoy), arguing over a broken vase.

Nothing really spectacular here, but director Joe Wright’s (Pride and Prejudice) following of the 13-year-old engages the audience right then.

He shows her what she sees, then rewinds and reveals what really happened between Robbie and Cecilia.

Still nothing Oscar-worthy but the sexual tension between Robbie and Cecilia grows while Briony’s innocence dwindles after she intercepts Robbie’s racy letter to Cecilia. Hurt and angered, for she has a crush on Robbie, she accuses him of a crime he did not commit.

Years later, Robbie and Cecilia try to reunite in war-torn France as Briony trains to become a nurse and clear her guilty conscience.

Atonement is a magnificent portraiture of character-driven drama. Every aspect of this film seems effortlessly complex.

Based on Ian McEwan’s novel of the same name, Wright’s adaptation gives the book’s guilt-ridden prose justice.

Wright not only creates a gorgeous film, he gives the movie inner beauty, which glows through every facet ofAtonement—pretension free.

Even the characters, dialogue and score have a picturesque quality to them.

In the midst of the film is a continuous five-minute tracking shot of France’s Dunkirk beach. The camera follows Robbie as he walks past the shipwreck, soldiers singing hymns and a torn down Ferris wheel.

The shot is astonishing and amplifies the dismal mood of the film’s second half.

Knightley portrays the headstrong Cecilia with the right amount of tomboy elegance and maturity. Her subtle acting style works wonders in this film.

Her performance in Atonement tops her turn as Elizabeth Bennet in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice.

McAvoy not only showcases his acting chops as Robbie, he brings an unforgettable presence to the film. He never disappoints, and even when he’s draped in a scene of silence, the audience cannot seem to stop watching him.

Though McAvoy and Knightley are phenomenal, the person to watch is Saorise Ronan.

Ronan’s balance between Briony’s grasp on maturity and her actual naivety is astonishing. Even her subtle malice seen in her baby blues gives the audience a glimpse into the character’s mind.

Ronan is replaced by Romola Garai as Briony ages. Garai’s Briony is not filled with anger and misunderstanding; actually, she is finally getting a grip on the graveness of what she has done. Her Briony is filled with guilt and remorse and hopes to make amends.

The movie is a sweeping romantic epic, filled with amazing performances, an elegant score and a perfectly satisfying finish.

Atonement is not only a great best picture Oscar contender but also one of the best dramas in recent history.

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