Sunday, February 03, 2008


‘If you can go back in time and change anything, what would it be?’

You cannot, obviously.

Atonement is a film about wanting to go back, but maybe the more accurate description is it’s a film about being burdened with a pain in the past. As in life, there is not much the lead can do. What is done is done; there is no going back.

We make amends, do penitence; then maybe fate will look kindly, and give back that which was destroyed. Maybe . . .

This film, however, is primarily a love story while being about pain and penitence. Cecilia Tallis (Keira Knightley) and Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) play the star-crossed lovers separated by a childhood misdeed and the Second World War. They are very capable actors backed up by an equally capable cast that is if you don’t mind the accent. It’s an all British cast.

I sometimes find myself needing more concentration in an all British movie; with the accent and the use of words. But this film is ok, no danger of nosebleed for just understanding the dialogue.

The concept of Atonement is perfect. Like any movie, any story, we look for the challenges and the conflict. In love stories the conflicts you see are warring families; one lover rich and the other poor; or other lovers, but what greater challenge is there than a world at war. How can you find love in all that hate?

In some ways the same can be asked of the lovers in the film: 'how can you find the love?' Sure Cecilia and Robbie longed for each other excruciatingly in the war scenes, but I never really felt the attachment in their relationship. Poof they're in love and poof World War II.

Cinematography is great. There were nice scenes of aristocratic England; the Dunkirk evacuation; and World War II era London. The film’s musical score has one unique element to it; the sound of a typewriter. That should give you a hint of what the ‘atonement’ is.

What I find unfavorable about this film is the storyline. It needs some getting used to, but honestly at times, when I recollect, I find it horrible. Sometimes the story goes forward, then it rewinds again, this time through the eyes of another character. While ultimately it builds up to the twist in the end I find that it interrupts my momentum in getting a feel for the character.

I was so dazed in fact that I find myself saying ‘what!!!’ in the end. With so many backwards and forwards, I didn’t realized I had already reached it.

Fortunately, what I know is I’ve reached the end of my review.