Archive for December 18th, 2007

“Atonement”: Their Minds Wander While Their Claws Sink Deep

December 18, 2007


It was getting to that fifth alcoholic beverage and realizing suddenly that you’re being affected to a far greater degree than you thought. That’s what watching Atonement was like for me. It’s the first film that I’ve been so very greatly affected by in a long while, and that’s even after seeing every plot twist in the trailer. A lot of that comes down to the great craftsmanship and vision that Christopher Hampton has brought to the screenplay and how director, Joe Wright, interpreted that screenplay. My dilemma is how I begin to tell in what way this affected me, with the story or the craftsmanship? In the end every aspect of this film has been so carefully intertwined that they are all inseparable, and for me to talk about any of it would be to give away the surprise that I felt during this film. So, I feel I should be cautious and remain vague in my initial review and I will double back later to write more.

The very basic story involves an imaginative young girl, Briony Tallis (like Tri-on-ee), who wishes to put on a play for the arrival of her Brother, only in the process she witnesses a series of moments between her sister, Cecilia Tallis (Kiera Knightley) and the grounds keeper’s son, Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) that from the perspective we’re allowed to see it from – Briony’s perspective – is startling, even frightening. And like the good writer that she is begins to fill in the blanks herself. But what’s truly going on between Cecilia and Robbie is a bit more complicated. The parallel events that unfold are so carefully constructed that what happens is without realizing it you’re truly brought into the psyches of these characters. Especially the psyche of the 13-year-old Briony. You really do understand the world as they do. But you would think that a 13-year-old, even as imaginative as this would know better. What is it that truly pushes her to believe what she believes. There’s a short scene later in the film that hints at this, dealing with an emotion that Briony probably doesn’t understand herself.