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Atonement

I give the following music preview for the movie ATONEMENT featuring “APOLOGIZE” an A+. For what I think of the actual film, keep reading:

I saw ATONEMENT in a matinee the other day after reading a few reviews that it was a bit of a “so what” movie. But I LOVED Joe Wright’s work on PRIDE AND PREJUDICE so seeing this movie was pretty much a must for me. I haven’t read Ian McEwan’s book so I can’t comment on the faithfulness of the adaptation so it was a purely cinematic experience for me.

Cinematography in ATONEMENT is outstanding and has a similar “dark scenes” of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE feel. Sure these actors can act and Keira Knightly is beautiful and sassy and James McAvoy is hot and saucy and Saoirse Ronan and Romola Garai are downright creepy. I felt that there was more smolderingness between Saoirse and the other characters than Keira and James which is perhaps why the great “bad deed” felt bad but not entirely mortal, regardless of the character’s fates.

The narrative structure of the film, particularly in the second half is a little rough and makes me want to crack open the book to find pieces of putty to smooth it over. That said, the first half of ATONEMENT gets a solid “A”. Although set in England in the ’30s, it feels utterly modern with unminced words and vicious themes. Multiple point-of-view storytelling charges towards the first tumultuous event with forceful captivation. And then… ATONEMENT sort of unravels and gets lost within itself. If this is a drama then less romance and more Briony! Or if this is a romance then… well it’s not.

What it boils down to is with ATONEMENT’s second half worthy of a weak B-, I found the overall film going experience to be utterly dissatisfying. And not because of the ultimate ending. I truly loved the twist about why the first “bad deed” was, at present, unresolvable. And the other who-what-where twist I can’t take much exception to because it was already built upon a few levels of instability.

I understand the tool of matching the method of telling the story to story’s motifs and perhaps even trying to tie the viewer’s experience watching the movie into the thematic journey but I do feel that my dissatisfaction with the film is not due to its intrinsic content but rather its shortcomings in form.

To recap:

ATONEMENT music trailer = A+
ATONEMENT first half = A
ATONEMENT second half = B-
ATONEMENT overall = B+ (weak)

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