on March 5, 2017
Meticulously done film, based on a book by a popular, and acclaimed writer. Its about the actions of a girl, a very imaginative, but naive child, and how she wrecks the lives of two would be lovers. She tries to atone, but it seems to me that some mistakes cannot be taken back. Some actions or lies can be taken that ruin the lives of innocent people forever, and there are some mistakes that can't be taken back.

I am reminded of the meddlesomeness of a woman in my recent experience who gossiped too much, and who aborted an innocent but deep and significant friendship, and hurt also another person in such a way that was entirely unnecessary. The worst of it is what she did to the friends. They no longer are friends, but two broken apart halves, and God only knows if they will ever be together again.
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on December 27, 2014
Beautifully filmed and directed. A great story told with style. I don't think I've ever seen better acting. James McAvoy is at the top of his game; Keira Knightley is superb; Saoirse Ronan is a revelation; Benedict Cumberbatch is wonderfully sleazy in a pivotal supporting role; Brenda Blethyn, as always, is outstanding; and the incomparable Vanessa Redgrave is perfection. Watch for an amazing long tracking shot as McAvoy and his pals arrive at the beach staging camp during WWI…I can't figure out how it was done to such perfection. If feels like the shot goes on for 20 minutes with the camera moving from one meaningful event to another yet catching up with McAvoy and pals as they keep moving toward somewhere to stop and rest…absolutely beautifully done. Joe Wright IS an amazing director. I can't even imagine the coordination required to get this scene completed. If you like David Lean movies, you'll like this one. The basic story involves a young girl's crush on a servant's son that triggers childish imagination and jealousy which leads to unexpected and tragic consequences.
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on October 14, 2016
This is a masterpiece, esp is you love James McAvoy like I do. I saw it in the theaters when it came out in 2007 and hadn't seen it since so decided to see it again.
Wow, I won't give anything away, but turn on the spiggots...just like in the theater that many years ago, I could not stop crying; it is sad and cruel and evokes many feelings in the people who see it.
I am not saying not to see it. It is incredibly well done. Just know what it is.
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on March 6, 2009
I was initially attracted to the movie of Atonement, but decided to read the novel first. I had not read any of McEwan's work before, and was captivated by the book in ways I haven't been in a long time. I'm surprised by those who found it and the movie tedious; for me, it was that detail that made it so compelling. It's rare that I find myself reading passages over and over again simply because the language is so beautiful and clever. Of course the downside of enjoying a novel so much is that a movie adaptation can rarely live up to expectations. [SPOILERS AHEAD]

This might be one of the best adaptations of a novel I have seen. And the concluding section where Brioni, near the end of her life (and played by the magnificent Vanessa Redgrave), sits down for a TV interview to explain her "atonement" was a masterful reinterpretation of what was more of an interior monologue in the novel. In some ways, visualizing what really happened to the lovers versus the "better ending" Brioni gave them in her novel made the multi-layered tragedy even more devastating.

I know this kind of film isn't everyone's cup of tea, but for me it's exhilarating when a filmmaker pushes the boundaries of standard Hollywood fare and succeeds. This isn't a "feel good" movie by any stretch of the imagination. It's a bit distressing reading comments from those who hated the movie. Some resented the repetition of scenes from different perspectives--but that was the point: we each see things differently based on many variables, sometimes with devastating results. I'm amazed to read those who wanted more "atonement" than they got. For them, I suspect, Brioni needed to do penance like some medieval nun, but how does one atone for "innocently" ruining loved ones' lives other than to live with the guilt and right it as best as possible by devoting your singular talent over the course of your adult life to give your sister the happier ending she deserved--in art at least, if not in life?

I like mindless, entertaining movies like everyone else. But I also, occasionally, like to see movies that require me to be a more active participant, that challenge me to think in different ways, that touch my emotions in sometimes unpleasant ways. My dear sister, for instance, won't see any movie that "might make me sad." What I find troubling about some of the criticism of Atonement is that some impatient viewers not only didn't "get it;" they seem to resent the fact that the movie didn't allow them to be passive recipients of entertainment. That's sad.

A plus of the DVD/blu-ray edition of this movie is the bonus materials. I'm always intrigued to see scenes that were ultimately cut from the final release and the rationale for doing so. And it's always interesting to see how some powerful scenes were accomplished technically--like the 360-degree pan of Normandy beach (which another reviewer here didn't like because it "wasn't how it really happened." Arrgh). Despite it's immense sadness, this is a movie I will watch repeatedly over the years.
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on January 10, 2009
Atonement is a beautiful, enlightening, and original movie going experience. It deals with the universal themes of love, jealousy and guilt, and shows how one lie can destroy lives. I have never read the book, but after watching the movie I now plan to.

All the cast does their job well. James McAvoy and Keira Knightley are very believable as the films romance that is ripped apart by the jealously and anger, or maybe confusion, of a child named Briony. Briony is played in the film at three different stages of her life by three different actresses. As much I like the performances of the romantics leads, the film's three best performances are all of the character Briony. It's real a feat to be seen how seamless the character transfers from one actress to another. In a way the film is more about Briony, what she did and the guilt that follows, than about anything else.

This film takes you from an affluent family's estate, to the evacuation of Dunkirk, to war hospital, all wonderfully stages and superbly shot, and laced with a terrific score. It's a journey that feels very fresh compared to many other more cliché filled romantic dramas out there. The ending is particularly powerful and surprising, though to say more than that would be irresponsible of me. It's definitely a must see.
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on November 23, 2015
I waited several years to watch this movie. I was apprehensive - afraid of being disappointed. This is one of the best movies I've seen in years. If the Oscar's weren't a political popularity contest - this film would have swept the Oscar's. A dull, pretentious movie, "The English Patient" swept the Oscar's several decades ago - this far superior movie won NOTHING?!? If you are a fan of epic, mystery/romantic movies - don't miss it. It reminded me of a David Lean movie (Doctor Zhivago). The screenplay is masterful and the cast is almost perfect. It looks superb on Blu-Ray - almost like a 70mm film. If this poignant film doesn't leave you with a heartache at the end, you have a heart of stone.
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on April 19, 2016
If you like the British tradition of passion unspoken (until it explodes), silent betrayal and revenge taken with ice..then this is for you.
Nice to visit again the brilliant star of "brooklyn, Soairse Ronan"
Spring for 4 bucks and rent it
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on February 12, 2011
It'll make you angry and glad for the characters, perhaps at the same time. It took a different course than I expected, more brutal, with the rape of the young girl, with which the lie centers upon. I hadn't known much about the film (and certainly none about the book) before watching this. I watched for Keira Knightly.

The acting was absolutely wonderful, and it was well thought-out and directed.

It is one of the slower moving films, where there will not be something eye-catching from moment to moment. But it is rather soul catching.

Really lovely film and story. It made me rather sad, but I still recommend it.
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on September 1, 2017
An odd improbable story, but with good acting and photography.
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VINE VOICEon May 12, 2014
If you rely on this film to replace Ian McEwan's wonderful novel, you will be missing a lot. Several significant episodes are deleted, important characters are ignored, and the end is changed in a way that is not true to the novel. The director does a good job of creating atmosphere, particularly in the first section and in Robbie's war experiences (where there is also some stunning cinematography). Read the book first!
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