2 hours, 3 minutes
R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.
for disturbing war images, language and some sexuality
DVD Features: Deleted scenes; Bringing the past to life: The making of Atonement; From novel to screen: Adapting a classic; Feature commentary with director Joe Wright.
Keira Knightley ... Cecilia Tallis
James McAvoy ... Robbie Turner
Brenda Blethyn ... Grace Turner
Harriet Walter ... Emily Tallis
Saoirse Ronan ... Briony Tallis, aged 13
Romola Garai ... Briony, aged 18
Vanessa Redgrave ... Older Briony
Juno Temple ... Lola Quincey
Felix von Simson ... Pierrot Quincey
Charlie von Simson ... Jackson Quincey
Alfie Allen ... Danny Hardman
Patrick Kennedy ... Leon Tallis
Benedict Cumberbatch ... Paul Marshall
|British director Joe Wright ("Pride and Prejudice") has made a dazzling adaptation of Ian McEwan’s best selling 2001 novel. It's a period story, largely set in England in the 1930s and ‘40s, about an adolescent outburst of spite that destroys two lives and ruins a third, preserving much of the novel’s metaphysical depth and all of its emotional power.
In 1935, 13-year-old fledgling writer Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) and her family live a life of wealth and privilege in their enormous mansion. On the warmest day of the year, the country estate takes on an unsettling hothouse atmosphere, stoking Briony’s vivid imagination. Shocked at the immodesty of her sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley "Bend It Like Beckham"), and driven by confused child-adult emotions that are only clarified much later, Briony turns against Robbie Turner (James McAvoy "The Last King of Scotland"), the educated son of the family’s housekeeper (Brenda Blethyn "Secrets & Lies") who in turn is hoping that Cecelia's feelings are comparable to his. All it will take is one spark for their relationship to combust, but when it does, Briony, who has a crush on Robbie, is compelled to interfere, going so far as accusing Robbie of a crime he did not commit. Cecilia and Robbie declare their love for each other, but he is arrested and taken off to prison, and the course of their three lives is irrevocably changed forever.
The ramifications of Briony's childish spite reverberate through the years. Getting out of jail, Robbie finds himself on his way to France to fight in WWII. By 1940, Robbie is one of thousands of soldiers in retreat and en route to Dunkirk, waiting for boats to ship them back to England. Meanwhile Cecilia is working as a nurse in London. Briony, now 18 (played by Romola Garai "Vanity Fair"), continues to seek forgiveness for her childhood misdeed, also working as a nurse, in an attempt to expiate the guilt she now feels about her actions. Her quest for atonement, for the chance of even a meeting with Robbie and Cecilia, fuels the pic’s final, revelatory 45 minutes, which packs one emotional punch after another. Through a terrible and courageous act of imagination, an older Briony (Vanessa Redgrave "Howards End") finds the path to her uncertain atonement, and to an understanding of the power of enduring love.