Monday, January 07, 2008


I finally saw Atonement tonight, with Becca. I've been waiting for this movie since I finally read the book, back in August or something. I read the book knowing that there was going to be a movie adaptation, and I expected it to be good, but I was actually surprised by how good it was. Sure, there were a few minor things I missed (I did miss some of the scenes in France), but by the end I didn't care. Partly that's because I had sort of forgotten the "twist" (it seems sort of demeaning to call it a twist, it's more like a punch in the gut), and then suddenly there was Vanessa Redgrave, doing a monologue against an all black background, breaking my heart. It really was that good.

There were other things I liked about it, of course -- and I don't want to give away the end of the movie, either, so I will mention those instead of rhapsodizing about the last five minutes. The music was pretty amazing -- aside from just a few overly-swelling string sections, there was innovative use of a typewriter's sound for percussion, if you can believe that, which modernized the movie a bit and was really arresting. And the cast was great as well. All versions of Briony were pitch-perfect, and Keira Knightley, as she should, walked that line between annoying and impetuous and pissed off and beautiful (although I really am distracted by how thin she is, in everything I see her in). James McAvoy walked that line between a little scarily angry/righteous and properly devastated. I felt like all of the three main characters, actually, were very accurate to the book. And finally, the movie was just gorgeous... the English country home scenes, bathed in sunlight, veiled in thick old glass, illuminated by little glowing lamps just bright enough, shadowed in dark wood paneling; the scenes in France, which I do vaguely wish there were more of because there is so much tragedy and horror in those scenes of the book, but which were bleak and still beautiful. (The photo in this post is not the exact shot in the movie, but I couldn't find the exact screenshot.) The lighting was great -- from flashing lights in the tube, all the shadowy moments in the beginning, lamps lighting down a hallway in turn.

I know a lot of people who are writing this movie off as too much of a romance, too sweeping. It is that, but it is a lot more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now, people, reread the poem "In Flanders Fields" (as an accompaniment to all the poppies). Not really an anti-war poem, but still...