Posted in Uncategorized by nanshi on June 25, 2008

A critical and comprehensive review. Haha, not.

* * * *

This film didn’t really catch my eye. Well, not until I saw James McAvoy (and grr, he’s married!!) in Penelope, but basically there was very little promotion and marketing for this film. You would assume it is a romance film, but it’s actually not. It’s so much more deeper than that.

Synopsis: Set around the years of 1934-1940 and the present, this is a tale that revolves mostly around adolescent foolishness. Briony Tallis is a 13-year old girl with an overactive imagination and is quite intelligent as well. Her older sister, Cecilia Tallis (Keira Knightley) and the housekeeper’s son, Robbie (James McAvoy) are obviously attracted to one another, BUT don’t really do anything about it. There are a few [huge] misunderstandings (spurred by Briony’s hyperactive imagination) which eventually results in an accusation that ruins the entire Tallis’ lives… oh, and World War II does help a bit too. Basically, this film is about Briony Tallis trying to atone for what she did when she was a young girl that basically tore apart the chance of Cecilia and Robbie’s chance(s) for love.

Review: I loved this film. It’s not a romance story, although romance is one of the key themes. And contrary to popular belief: this story doesn’t really revolved around Robbie and Cecilia (despite what the poster trailers tell you). They play a small role, but the real main character is Briony Tallis. There is very little romance in this film and its not raunchy at all. All right, there was that tres erotic scene in the library (omo), but it could’ve been a lot worse and a lot more explicit. I can’t even describe this film because it transcends genre. Historical drama? Not really (which you’ll find out as you get towards the end). Romance? Again, not really… despite what trailers make you think. Chick flick? No. There are ample scenes of a tragic battle scene at Dunkirk which will make you think otherwise. It’s more a film about… well, not even deception. It’s more a film about words and how important they are. A lot of people think actions speak louder than words, but everyone has to admit: words can cut just as harshly as a knife too.. even if you don’t mean it. Let’s face it, a guy can treat you like a perfect angel, but the minute he — albeit, jokingly — says that he “doesn’t love you” (even though through his actions, he obviously does), you’re crushed, no?

It’s really really a brilliant film. I’m not film major or film expert (I thought the “Ocean’s” series with George Clooney is an awesome piece of work, see. I have bad taste)… and even I could appreciate the depth of this movie. I loved how it wasn’t a “typical” romance. And it gives the most brilliant twists because it switches narrators and perspectives so very often in the film that you’re left a bit dazed and confused at where you are. Just… really brilliant. I can’t even give too much away because of possible spoilers (it’s one of those films where everything has the potential to be a spoiler).

Dearest Cecilia, the story can resume. The one I had been planning on that evening walk. I can become again the man who once crossed the Surrey park at dusk, in my best suit, swaggering on the promise of life. The man who, with the clarity of passion, made love to you in the library. The story can resume. I will return. Find you, love you, marry you and live without shame.

One of my favorite favorite FAVORITE scenes in the film is the [albeit fictional] scene where Briony, Robbie, and Cecilia are at Cecilia’s place and Robbie storms in and starts yelling at Briony and he raises his hand to hit her and Cecilia yells at him and Robbie turns around with his arm still raised, and Cecilia is saying, “Look at me. Look at me! Come back. Come back to me…” and she puts her hand on his cheek and hesitantly kisses him. It’s just… so beautifully done. He’s so angry, and you can see the livid anger in his eyes as he spins around to pin Cecilia with his stare and she genuinely looks frightened, but it’s Robbie and so she desperately tries to calm him down so he doesn’t hurt her Briony.

*no one else seems to like that scene. But I do…I think the phrase, “Come back. Come back to me” has officially become iconic. yay! I’m going to start using it now.

beautiful PV made from clips in Atonement. Depicts my favorite scene (without audio though).
Credits to emmalouisefu @ youtube.

For those of you that HAVE seen the film, I have some things I’d like to discuss. I’ll place them in white so those of you who don’t want to read it won’t have to.

– I was a bit confused about the perspectives. I think the “reconcilliation” scene with Cecilia and Robbie and Briony in the house was created — for the novel that Briony ended up writing and was talking about at the end — by Briony, but what about the scene where Robbie and Cecilia meet in the tea shop? I’m pretty sure that wasn’t made up (because he still had the photographs on him). And the wedding? Did Briony really attend the wedding too?
– I was glad that there wasn’t a happy ending and that Robbie and Cecilia died (and neither by suicide either). War is not glamorous, and I appreciate the fact that the Atonement team didn’t try to make it out that way.
– He dies of sepsis, right? Poor guy. I cried. Well, teared up, anyways.
– So Briony was a nurse then, right? So, I suppose she never made it up with Cecilia. Do you think Cecilia ever found out that Robbie died?
– What did the scene with Briony and the Frenchman (Luc) have anything to do? I only understand a bit of French, so I think the entire bout of the scene just had to do with Luc trying to get her to say her name was “Briony” and that she wasn’t just “Nurse Tallis.” And the Frenchman had met Robbie at one point, right?
– Speaking of Robbie… wow, he had SUCH a good friend. But when you’re traipsing through the wilderness together for such a long time.. hehe, please be good friends. Nettle, if I’m not mistaken, right?

AND SILLY LITTLE GIRL!!! There’s a lot of speculation going around that what Briony did (when she was 13) wasn’t because of jealousy, but because she honestly thought that Robbie was a dangerous and perverse threat to her sister. I was utterly confused… I mean, here’s a boy who is practically like your older brother, and you sell him out just because he types the word “c**t.” AND NOSY LITTLE GIRL. Had she not read the note in the first place (or the idiot hadn’t given it to her, so for that: I fully blame Robbie), none of this would’ve happened. Although, speculation also indicates that Robbie would’ve still gone to war. Whether or not he had died might’ve been a different story. But I’m inclined to believe that. But at least he would’ve had a clear name and could live without shame.


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