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Atonement
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550 out of 807 people found the following review useful:

If this doesn't win Best Picture next year it will have been robbed!

10/10
Author: Simon Parker from United Kingdom
10 September 2007

Its very rare that a movie like Atonement comes along and leaves me completely speechless and in complete and utter awe for hours after I have seen it. You see Atonement isn't just the best movie I have seen all year, its one of the best movies I have seen in a very, very long time. And by that I include Pan's Labyrinth, yes this movie is better than my favourite movie of 2006, and I never imagined Atonement would ever come close to that level of greatness until fifteen minutes into the movie last night. Atonement is an unusual movie, in fact its fair to say that I have never seen anything quite like it. Its a rare movie that actually I adored so much that I am going to hunt down a copy of the book tomorrow just to see the comparisons. Its not an easy movie I'll be honest, if you go in expecting something light hearted and easy to digest then you will leave the cinema feeling very cheated. This is a movie that deals with very dark things at times. No matter how much I desire to write in depth about every aspect of the movie I just can't, the movies greatest triumph is the fact that its plot is so intricately woven that if you ruin one part of the storyline to anyone then the movies impact is slightly lessened. The storyline is just brilliant, but its the climax that leaves you in store for the biggest shocker, and its this shocker that leaves you reeling long after you have left the cinema. The performances here are all spectacular, I think its fair to say that the two leads, James McAvoy and Keira Knightly shall be receiving at the very least nominations for Best Actor/Best Actress. The score is beautiful, whoever came up with the idea of using a typewriter as a musical instrument deserves to be praised heavily. Its rare a score leaves me feeling moved, the score in this movie did that for me. That's yet another Oscar that this movie deserves to win. All in all Atonement is just perfection, I doubt you'll find a better movie this year or even for the next three years. In a time when Blockbusters get all the attention it is nice to see a small, but intelligent movie leave me in awe.

As I previously mentioned the performances in this movie is simply amazing. Keira Knightly is an odd actress, while she proved herself in Pride and Prejudice, yes I have unfortunately seen that movie, she comes across as a wooden actress in films like Pirates of the Caribbean. Atonement really sees her at her best yet. Her character is different from what we've seen Knightly play before. Usually she goes for the spunky females, this time she seems more like a proper lady, albeit one that smokes constantly and is a bit stuck up for her own good. Keira Knightly excels in the earlier, more laid back sequences, but its in the later stuff, the more powerful stuff that we see just how talented an actress she truly is. Despite all my praise for Knightly she still plays second fiddle to James McAvoy. The former actor of Shameless and Narnia is on a roll lately. His excellent, although sadly overlooked performance in The Last King of Scotland still sticks firmly in memory. But his performance here is simple breathtaking. One sequence in particular where we see his acting talent come to light has to be the sequence in Dunkirk (more on that later), no words but the performance says everything. Knightly might not be certain to win an Oscar, but McAvoy surely is! Its also refreshing to see a young actress, Saoirse Ronan, not be eye gougingly irritating, but rather a superb actress. Her character, Briony, is a vital character in the movie, and for such a young actress she delivers her performance so chillingly brilliant. Unfortunately next to this brilliant performance, Romola Garai who plays an older Briony pales in comparison. Her performance is still brilliant, but not as effective nor as memorable as the younger actress.

The storyline of Atonement is where the film holds most of its impact. Essentialy the film is about a lie that Briony tells, and how it affects the lives of her, Cecilia, and most importantly of all, Robbie. That's pretty much all I can and will say of the storyline. A lot more happens over the course of the movie, and a lot of stuff that you think will happen doesn't, and things you think won't happen will. The ending is a prime example of this and to be honest I didn't see it coming. The way the movie is directed is also something note. The beautiful colours of the summer house are amazing, but the way the camera moves around the house makes it even better. But the direction will be remembered for one scene in this movie, and its in Dunkirk. I mentioned this previously for the performance in that scene, what I failed to mention is that the shot is a continuous shot that lasts five minutes as we see the chaos of Dunkirk. From horses being shot to a man hanging from a ferris wheel, the sequence is shown in all its glory. It really is a powerful moment, and probably the one scene that got me closest to tears, purely because of the singing in the background, it is shocking just how amazing this sequence truly is.

Overall Atonement is a perfect movie, in actual fact its a movie with pretty much no flaws whatsoever. Superb performances, beautiful direction, a script and storyline to die for. It is unlikely any film will top this for a very long time, this is something that will go down in cinema history as being a classic, and it highly deserves it inevitable status.

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333 out of 479 people found the following review useful:

Atonement - a feast for the eyes.

10/10
Author: jayceetees from United Kingdom
16 September 2007

My wife and I went to see the movie last night and were totally blown away by the whole experience. So brilliantly directed and acted. The movie time just flew by and we were drawn in and captivated by each dramatic moment. Never having read the book or been an expert on WW2, I had a truly open mind on what to expect and I'm not one of those who count every rivet or go looking for technical inaccuracies however small. This was truly a masterpiece of cinematography. We were treated to wonderful performances, lavish sets, shocking and thought-provoking moments and haunting themes. I had the privilege of being an extra in the Redcar, Dunkirk scene and once seen in its full glory and effect on the big screen I was simply in awe and glad to have been a part of it. Walking along Redcar beach from now on will never quite be the same again. I am quite sure that the movie will win a number of awards within the next 12 months, but that is not what really matters. Movies are there to entertain, tell a story and affect you emotionally and by God this did it in spades! If you have not seen it yet, you must!

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299 out of 416 people found the following review useful:

Great interpretation of a wonderful novel

8/10
Author: chelseachelsea from United Kingdom
20 August 2007

I saw a preview of this film yesterday and felt privileged to be one of the first people to see the film. It was also a pleasure to see a film before reading any other critical review or opinion. I am a great fan of Ian Mcewan and was concerned that it would not be possible to capture the subtleties and nuances of Mcewan's writing but I needn't have had any worries. The director, Joe Wright and screenplay writer Christopher Hampton have done a superb job and the complexities of the novel are superbly captured with real imagination. The story is set in three main areas, an English country house in 1935, war torn France 1940 and London 1940. The atmosphere in of all three are wonderfully captured by the director, cinematographer, costume design and score and I am sure that there are going to be some Oscar nominations for these. James McAvoy as lead man gives a tremendous performance of a restrained but passionate man. I was not as convinced by Keira Knightley's performance and am not sure that her acting has the mature edge to capture the social nuances of the times that McAvoy did so successfully. Do not see this film if you like fast paced films and rapid plot development! This is not a film for the pop video generation. If however you like character development and a plot that unravels at a pace that allows you to be immersed in the atmosphere of the film then I can highly recommend Atonement as one of the best films that I have seen this year.

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296 out of 432 people found the following review useful:

Pure poetry on film

9/10
Author: seawalker from Birmingham, England
10 September 2007

My brain tends to turn to mush in the presence of greatness. This makes it difficult when I want to write about something that I thought was truly great. It is so much easier to write about something that is rubbish.

Oh, well. Here goes.

I thought that "Atonement" was terrific. It is a really great movie. Obviously it is early days yet, and there are a lot of contenders still to appear, but "Atonement" might just be the winner-in-waiting of the Best Film Oscar in 2008. Put your money on it now.

"Atonement" is pure poetry on film. From the hazy, dreamy, hopeful days of 1935, a destructive act of spite, the horrors of Dunkirk (with one of the most fantastic long takes I have seen in a cinema for a very long), to the aftermath and a devastating "happy" ending, it is a magnificent and moving film, beautifully directed by Joe Wright.

I have never really rated Keira Knightley or understood her popularity. Except for her role in "Pride & Prejudice" (for which she was perfectly cast) I have tended to refer to her as Girl-Who-Would-Be-Winslet, as I thought that she had not played a single role that Kate Winslet could not have done better. Maybe I won't say that anymore. "Atonement" is easily the best thing Keira Knightley has done.

Keira Knightley has had a lot of the press over here, but we should not forget to mention the pitch perfect performances from James McAvoy and Romola Garai. They share as much screen time as La Knightley and are as impressive.

Wonderful film.

Gushing over.

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200 out of 284 people found the following review useful:

One Third of "Atonement" Is Brilliant

7/10
Author: evanston_dad from United States
17 December 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The first third of "Atonement" is superb. We are introduced to a group of affluent English aristocrats whiling away their summer hours at a massive estate. One of them, Cecilia (Keira Knightley), is nursing a raging case of sexual attraction to her childhood friend and now family gardener, Robbie Turner (James McAvoy), while another, Cecilia's young sister Briony (Saoirse Ronan), spends her day writing a play which she plans to perform for a family gathering later that evening. Everyone is bored and listless in the summer heat. Briony, prey to an overactive imagination, keeps witnessing a series of increasingly serious moments of intimacy between Cecilia and Robbie that she isn't old enough to fully understand, and finally a false accusation by her is responsible for sending Robbie away from the estate in handcuffs. Everything about this part of the film is brilliant. The director Joe Wright ratchets the sexual tension to an almost unbearable pitch, and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen.

But then the story and movie switched gears, and it lost some of that narrative momentum it had been so wonderfully building. The second and third acts of the film, while accomplished, do not deliver on the promise set up in the film's first part, and the movie never really succeeded in sucking me back in. When we next see Robbie, he's wandering through the desolate battlefields of WWII France, pining for Cecilia and nursing a chest wound. Wright shows off mightily in this part of the film; there's an astounding ten-minute tracking shot that depicts the allied forces on the beach of Dunkirk that will have cineastes slobbering. But like Robbie's mind, this part of the film starts to wander aimlessly, and even while I was admiring the sheer planning that went into this amazing shot, I couldn't help but wish that Wright would just get on with it already.

Finally, the film circles back to Briony, four years older and working as a nurse tending to the wounded. She's suffering a tremendous amount of guilt for the wrongs she's only now beginning to understand and wants to reach out to Cecilia (from whom she's now estranged) and Robbie to offer her apologies. I've not read the Iam McEwan novel on which this film is based, but even I could tell that this is where the screenwriter, Christopher Hampton, had the most trouble adapting the novel to the screen. Much of what "Atonement" is about becomes clear in this last act, as Briony ages into Vanessa Redgrave, a successful novelist who has finally written a novel that works as an outlet for her devastating feelings of guilt. We begin to realize here that "Atonement" isn't as much about the love affair between Cecilia and Robbie as it is about the act of writing and the power of words. Briony learns as a little girl how difficult words are to take back once they've been said; as an adult, she learns the ability of words to help us deal with regret. One particular scene that takes place between Cecilia, Robbie and Briony is a fiction inserted into their story by Briony the novelist; it's the story as she wishes it had been rather than as it actually was. Briony the woman can't change the past, but Briony the novelist can.

This is a wonderful idea, but unfortunately the screenplay doesn't quite know how to communicate this in cinematic terms, so it's told directly to the audience by Redgrave in a monologue at the film's conclusion. Redgrave is a luminous actress, but her soliloquy feels awkwardly inserted into the film. As for the other actors, they all do fine work. The young actress Saoirse Ronan is especially good, and James McAvoy proves further that he's becoming one of the finest young actors working today. But the screenplay sort of abandons him and Knightley after its first half hour or so to a warmed over version of "The English Patient," and the strong impact they both make early on dissipates gradually.

I admired "Atonement" for how it looked and the ideas it had to express, but I think it's an uneven film that doesn't entirely work.

Grade: B+

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129 out of 170 people found the following review useful:

Forgive Our Foolish Ways

9/10
Author: James Hitchcock from Tunbridge Wells, England
21 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Atonement" is structurally comparable to a three-act play, with a brief epilogue. The three central characters are Briony, the younger daughter of the wealthy Tallis family, her older sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner, Cecilia's childhood friend. Robbie is from a humble social background (his mother is one of the family's servants), but academically brilliant, and Mr Tallis has paid for him to be educated through grammar school and Cambridge, where he has obtained a First. A brilliant future seemingly awaits him, in whatever profession he chooses, and he wants to pursue a career in medicine.

Act I begins like an upper-class comedy of manners. The setting is the Tallis family's stately home, on a hot summer's day in 1935. Briony, a precocious thirteen-year-old with ambitions to be a writer, has written a play to be performed by herself and her three cousins, but this project proves abortive due to disagreements between them. Robbie has fallen in love with Cecilia and accidentally sends her a sexually explicit love-letter. In other circumstances this might have resulted in disgrace, but as Cecilia returns his passion the accident seems to have been a happy one. The tone of the film changes abruptly, however, when Briony's cousin Lola is sexually assaulted. Lola cannot identify her assailant, but Briony, who was a witness, falsely accuses Robbie. As a result, he is convicted of attempted rape and sent to prison.

In Act II, set in 1940, Robbie, released from jail, is now a soldier with the British Army in France. He is desperately trying to reach Dunkirk ahead of the advancing Germans, kept going not by fighting spirit or patriotism, but by the hope of returning to Cecilia, who has stood by him throughout his trial and imprisonment, becoming estranged from her family as a result. In Act III we see Briony, now eighteen, as a volunteer nurse in a London hospital. It is in this Act that the theme of atonement comes to the fore. Briony is starting to have doubts about her identification of Robbie as Lola's attacker, so much so that she offers to withdraw her previous testimony and help him clear his name. Her decision to work as a nurse rather than go to university and to devote herself to caring for the wounded can also be seen as an attempt to atone for the part she played in blighting the life of an innocent man and in tearing her family apart.

After "The Last King of Scotland" and "Becoming Jane", James McEvoy is the rising male star of the British cinema, and his performance here is the best yet that I have seen. Whereas Dr Garrigan in "The Last King…" was morally flawed, and Lefroy in "Becoming Jane" hid his better nature beneath a roguish exterior, Robbie is unambiguously heroic. McEvoy succeeds in conveying his character's basic decency, achieving the difficult task of making him good without making him seem dull.

Keira Knightley is another rising British star, and this is her second film with director Joe Wright after "Pride and Prejudice". Although she was good in the comedy "Bend it like Beckham", I think that her films with Wright are her best, suggesting that her future lies with serious drama rather than popcorn epics like "Pirates of the Caribbean" in which she seemed miscast. Her Cecilia was not only the loveliest, but also the liveliest and most spirited heroine of any film I have seen recently. Special mentions must also go to Saoirse Ronan as the young Briony and to Vanessa Redgrave who plays the now-elderly Briony in the epilogue, set in 1999. I felt, however, that Romola Garai, at 25, was too old as the eighteen-year-old Briony.

This was only Wright's second feature film, and he has already established himself as an accomplished director. "Pride and Prejudice" is a good film, but "Atonement" is better. Ian McEwan's book is among the best novels of recent years, and I doubt if any cinematic treatment could capture all its nuances. One of its themes in particular, the debate between literary traditionalism and modernism, seems beyond the scope of any visual medium, and Wright and the scriptwriter Christopher Hampton wisely steer clear of it. Hampton, who has turned the book into a very good screenplay, keeps McEwan's final twist, although it is here presented in a different way, with Briony revealing the truth in an TV interview.

If, however, the film does not capture all the literary nuances of the novel, Wright makes up for this with his extraordinary visual imagination, something sometimes lacking in films based upon novels. "Atonement" joins that list of films ("Far from Heaven" and "Girl with a Pearl Earring" are other examples that come to mind) where almost every scene seems composed like a painting. This is true not only of Act I, set in that beautiful stately home (actually Stokesay Court in Shropshire), but also of Act II, where Wright can find a terrible beauty even in war, especially in the scenes of the burning town and that long shot of the Dunkirk beaches in the grey morning light. Particularly moving was the scene where the British soldiers sing "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind". The second line of John Greenleaf Whittier's hymn is, of course, "Forgive Our Foolish Ways"- a particularly apt comment on war, and perhaps on the behaviour of some of the characters.

Also very good was Dario Marianelli's musical score, which (appropriately for a film in which writing plays an important part) incorporated the sound of typewriter keys tapping. Altogether an excellent film- I can only hope that its British origins and late summer (traditionally blockbuster season) release date will not prejudice the Academy against it when it comes to next year's Oscars. 9/10

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128 out of 171 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful, sad, and McAvoy excels as usual.

9/10
Author: PizzicatoFishCrouch from United Kingdom
26 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

13-year-old Briony Tallis is a girl with a huge imagination who loves to write. The film starts at her completion of a play, "The Trials of Arabella", a morality tale on love and the dangers of being too hasty with one's emotions. From her opening line in the prologue, various multisyllabic words that I didn't understand were employed, and the audience giggles at her pretension: evidently, this is a girl whose world is shaped with words, regardless of whether or not she understands them. Witnessing her sister Cecilia dive into a pool as their housekeeper's son Robbie watches after her, Briony pictures as scene she has no understanding of, and, by the end of the day, she will have changed lives for the worse, and she will spend the rest of her life regretting and trying to atone this mistake.

The first act of the film, set in the picturesque country house, effectively conveys the sweltering heat of the British Summer and the mental unrest that comes with it. The camera never stays still, and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey even used Christian Dior stockings over the lenses to portray the heat and its effects on the residents. As Briony starts thinking about what she doesn't understand, trying to write a play of it, Dario Marianelli's haunting score, which features the rhythmic tapping of typewriter keys, reverberates in the background, to continually remind the audience that something bad is about to happen. The dramatic quality of the film is heightened with different events are replayed from different perspectives to show what something has the appearance of being, and what it really is. This device, though not new, works excellently for Atonement.

The second act of the film, set 4 years later, is much grittier and less pretty to watch. Robbie is now a soldier in France, and pines to get back to Cecelia. The horrors of war are not underplayed, and in one excellently-filmed tracking shot, the camera meanders through a chaotic mess of soldiers. Robbie, who had turned out so well before, has not lost practically all of his beauty, and retains only his accent. Similarly, back at home, soldiers with all sorts of disturbing injuries are shown. It is refreshing to see a film that, rather than portraying the war as some sort of patriotic honour, instead shows the horror and suffering that it causes.

In what could only be a nod to David Lean with his country houses, upper middle classes and epic romances, Joe Wright chose for his actors to give performances of the pre-Lee Strasburg era. And the cast rise up to the challenge admirably. As the young Briony, Saoirse Ronan is pitch-perfect, conveying her youthful innocence as well as whiny nosiness. Her sense of knowing about things she clearly doesn't is infuriating, but Ronan prevents us from denouncing her entirely, reminding us that she is, after all, just a child. Keira Knightley, who will be keen to forget her "performance" in her other 2007 venture, Pirates of the Caribbean III, doesn't do anything majorly wrong here, and at times even earns the audience's respect and sympathies as the loyal lover. Romola Garai plays the older, more wise Briony with conviction and a touch of sadness.

But the star of the show is the one, the only, James McAvoy. In the Q&A that followed the screening of the film, director Joe Wright described Robbie as the highest form of a human being, and he is. Even after he is put in the war to avoid staying in prison for longer, he does not whinge about it, but instead, gets through the day with the hope of seeing Cecelia guiding him through. James McAvoy plays this special individual with compassion and understanding. He has the accent and physicality of Robbie down to a T, but, more importantly, conveys his goodness, without ever having to resort to histrionics. McAvoy's performance is a masterclass in subtle acting. In some pivotal scenes, it is actually his beautiful blue eyes that do the acting more than anything, and they speak more words than Briony's ostentatious prose ever could.

There is more than a little similarity between Atonement and The Go-Between. Both tell of love between different classes, and an intruding message carrier between the two. Furthermore, Sarah Greenwood's sensuous set design (in the first act) and accurate war holes (in the second), along with the sound design, which features buzzing bees, works cleverly on a subconscious level to add to the tension. Indeed, Atonement is a technically and visually stunning film. The hues in the first act are almost overly saturated with richness, and this contrasts starkly to the second act, where cold hospital wards and mucky brown war dugouts fill the screen. The costumes are all realistic and accurate, though I personally favour the glamorous designs of the first half, which include a mesmerizing green dress that Cecelia wears. The cinematography, which encompasses long takes, tracking shots, lingering pans all attribute to the visual flair of the movie. But the key stylistic element that stood out for me, was the score. The piano theme is elegiac and melancholy, and the cello and violins also add to the sadness of the romance. Also, the use of a typewriter as an instrument, though started oddly, soon becomes infectious and it even forces its way into viewer's minds, making Robbie's note (and the consequences) unforgettable.

Joe Wright and Working Title have made a film to be proud of. Amidst some incredible scenes (such as an extremely erotic library non-reading session between Robbie and Cecelia). The quality and calibre of films that Working Title have turned out recently have been brilliant (Pride & Prejudice, Hot Fuzz, etc) and Atonement ranks up there along with my personal favourites Dead Man Walking and The Hudsucker Proxy. It is a wonderfully crafted, beautifully lush and immensely moving film that shows, above all, how storytelling can both destroy and heal.

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134 out of 205 people found the following review useful:

Stunning, absolutely stunning

10/10
Author: Sarah from United Kingdom
16 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Based on Ian McEwan's award wining novel of the same name, Atonement tells the story of A British romance that spans several decades. Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a 13-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister's lover of a crime he did not commit.

I've waited several months to see Joe Wright's second feature film "Atonement" and it did not disappoint. For an only second feature film by 35 old Joe Wright, it's absolutely astonishing. Directed superbly on all levels. From the stunning Dunkirk visuals, to several Point of view shots empathising each character's need and feelings at that point, you can't help but feel intertwined in the story and with the characters. I haven't seen such an epic of a film since The English Patient, I hope it continues to do well at the box office and worldwide, as it deserved to. I haven't read the novel, so I will do soon.

There are many sensational tracking shots in this, which I loved. For instance, in the Dunkirk scene, we walk with Robbie and see the devastation through his eyes, just amazing. At the beginning, Briony's view of Robbie and Celia is done through two perspectives. One being what Briony believe has happened and two the real truth, this creates a dilemma for the audience as you don't really know who to believe at that point. One shot I loved was of Briony's eye, an extreme close-up almost giving a clue to the viewer. As I mentioned before, I can not believe that Wright has produced such a masterpiece of a film, in only his second feature.

The Dunkirk, scene is something to be remembered. Watching it at the cinema, I was so taken aback by the extraordinary beauty of the scene. The cinematography is sensational. It captures the mood of that time, so well that you can put yourself in there. What works is that you think what you're seeing is real, and everything in every frame of that scene. I can't really describe the words, as it won't really doesn't do justice to what I thought of the scene but let's just say I'm still thinking about it now and will always. Subsequently that scene has to be up there with some of the best war scenes ever created for the silver screen, and I don't often say that unless it's seriously something that has left me speechless beyond any recognition- that hasn't happened. Some other scenes to mention are; Celia and Briony's estate like house and the scenery and the wartime London are also sensational. Plus, there done in such a way you wouldn't expect a 21st century film to make.

As for the acting, that was wonderful from every actor in the picture. Keira Knightly does brilliantly, as she did in Pride and Prejudice, which she deservedly got an Oscar nomination for that. However doing crap films like The Pirates Franchise doesn't do her acting talents any justice. These are the films she should be making as she has the ability to become one of the best British actresses of recent years; she just needs to keep well away from blockbusters. I'm sure she'll gain her 2nd nomination at next years Oscars. However the REAL sensation n this film is James MacAvoy. For me he outshone Knightly on all levels, playing Robbie Turner so, so well that you believed in the character more that Knightly's. I don't quite know how to explain but I'm sure you'll know what I mean when you see it. MacAvoy's performance was so exquisitely done that I almost cried for the first time in a cinema. I'm hopeful MacAvoy will gain his first nomination at the Academy awards. I hope he is in chance of winning one this year, I will jump for joy if he does as he deserves it more than anyone in this film. I must not forget the incredibly supporting cast, from young Saoirse Ronan who brilliantly played Briony aged 13 ,Romola Garai who played Briony aged 18 and the great Vanessa Redgrave(older Briony) who moved me to tears with her final speech at the end. I hope the Academy recognises at least one of those actresses, because they all deserve some recognition.

That soundtrack is stunning beyond words. It brilliantly blends in the mood of that period with every scene that you understand what's going on and the scene becomes visually engaging. I'm sure this score will be Oscar nominated! Finally, I'm sure Antonement will be nominated in several category's at the 2008 Academy awards as it should and deserved to. I haven't seen such an outstanding British film as his for a while now. Although The Queen came close last year, Atonement is the one for me. This is a modern masterpiece and will become an instant classic, as did The English Patient did back in 1996. I hope you will all go out and see it when it reaches your local cinema, as you all should. The best film I've seen this year!

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160 out of 260 people found the following review useful:

Review by an Antonement extra at Redcar Yorkshire

10/10
Author: nick1-7 from United Kingdom
1 September 2007

I finished filming as an extra in the blockbuster movie Atonement on August 22nd 2006. I didn't realise I'd have to wait a full 12 months and 1 day to see the end result on screen.

Well was it worth the wait? The answer is yes. The movie has the meticulous detail you would expect from a director of Joe Wright's calibre.

Richard Brooks (writing in the Sunday Times) said he would be amazed if the jury finds a better film than Atonement to take first place at the Venice film festival on August 29th.

He said, "I cannot think of a better British movie in years. Unlike most of our home-grown efforts, it is big scale, yet intimate when it needs to be." I would agree. The story unfolds and the audience is drawn into the plot from the start. It begins in pre-war England in a large country house with James McAvoy's character (Robbie Turner) being wrongly accused of rape and being imprisoned and thus separated from Keira Knightley. He is released from prison on condition he joins the army.

This is a love story and more, with the back drop of the Second World War. Although it is not a war film as such, the scenes of the Dunkirk evacuation are some of the best of their type ever executed in cinema history.

The scene that I was waiting to see was towards the end of the film. Joe Wright shot the Dunkirk scene in Redcar in one complete take, with no edits. It looks amazing, maybe being part of it made me slightly biased, but the human tableau that McAvoy's character walks through engulfs your senses and I can't wait to see it again. My only regret is that it wasn't longer.

Apart from this, Atonement doesn't disappoint in any department, the acting is first class and the story is engaging and I certainly didn't guess the ending. I will definitely see it again, this time at the Regent Cinema in Redcar, where the building is one of the cornerstones of the great set.

And finally did I see myself? Well possibly, the jury's still out, until I get my hands on the DVD next year. Enjoy it.

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154 out of 249 people found the following review useful:

my review

9/10
Author: guyoline from London
24 August 2007

Well, from the trailers I could tell this would be an epic film before I was even able to see it. I managed to attend a gala screening of the film last night and I thought it was amazing. Despite my constant dislike to Keira Knightly, I was unable to disapprove of her acting in this film. She has improved massively since the first pirates film. The film itself has an intriguing plot line which keeps you hooked throughout. The film includes humour at the start and fascination by the end. I loved watching this film and I enjoyed the smartness of the story. The film is cleverly done with jumps in time and different perspectives of events throughout which will leave you understanding the motives of each character more. The music is composed beautifully, the orchestral tunes accompanied with the clatter that a typewriter makes creates a beautiful piece of music that fits perfectly with the film itself. I have since begun to read the book, the only thing that the film lacks is the character depth that a book can write about but a film simply can't explain. I feel that the film shows what happened but the book is able to explain a little more as to why the events occurred. Overall the film was beautiful, brilliant and emotional.

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