Wednesday, February 13, 2008

REVIEW: Atonement


Year: 2007
Director: Joe Wright
Starring: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Julia West, Harriet Walter
Distributor: Focus Features
MPAA: Rated R

Atonement is a film that I was wanting to see for awhile now. After seeing the trailer for the movie, It got me interested in seeing this film. This is Joe Wright's newest film after the critically acclaimed move, Pride & Prejudice. I personally haven't seen Pride & Prejudice, but I have heard so many good things about it. So when Atonement eventually came out, for some strange reason I didn't get the chance to see it. I must have been really busy or something because I let this film slip right out. It was only after the movie got nominated for so many awards that I decided to watch it. Don't ask why, I must have had some free time on my hands.

Plot Outline:
Robbie Turner (James Mcavoy) is a helping gardener for a wealthy family that is in love with Cecilia Tallis (Keira Knightley), one of the family members. When Cecilia's younger sister Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan), who had a crush on Robbie, discovers them having sex in a library, she gets furious. Thus she accuses Robbie of an alleged rape that happened later that day and has him sent to prison. Torn between prison or joining the army, Robbie chooses the army and the story follows his quest for survival during World War II.

The story of Atonement is great. The movie is based on Ian McEwan's famous novel. I'm not entirely sure if the movie stays close to the novel seeing as how I never read the book. So I'm going to base this review on what I saw in the movie. The movie starts off slow with the introduction of a girl writing a story on a type writer, but it picks up soon afterwards. The plot gets really interesting, but also alittle predictable. We get introduced to these characters that are just a joy watching. The movie tells us this wonderful story through a series of weird flashbacks. If their is one thing that I found alittle distracting about Atonement, its the flashbacks. These flashbacks aren't the typical flashbacks we have seen before. Instead, scenes are played through the movie then theirs a flashback of the same scene. I just found it kind of distracting even though I'm sure the movie was made with flashbacks in mind.

The cast of Atonement is just wonderful. Everyone in the movie looks and sounds great with some giving award winning performances. James McAvoy plays Robbie Turner and he gives an outstanding performance, probably the best so far in his career. I was amazed because I never would have thought he would be giving Oscar performances, but I guess I was wrong. Then we have Keira Knightley playing as Cecilia Tallis and she too gives a very good performance. I guess she can give great performances as long as the movie has a great director. We also have Saoirse Ronan playing as Briony Tallis and shes pretty intelligent in a way, but also very convincing. I thought the cast overall was very good. I thought James McAvoy and Keira Knightley were splendid together and really gave the movie some legs.

The visual look of Atonement is amazing. The early scenes of the movie features very bright and vivid colors while the scenes later on feature a dark, but pale look. While their are some interior scenes, the movie has many great environments that show off some great looking views. Detail stands out alot with many of the scenes looking very sharp. Flesh tones are spot on with many of the cast members looking very clear and colorful. As surprising as this sounds, their are many moments in the film you can show off to your friends on your big screen TV as demo material. I was really surprised on how great Atonement really looks. Its kind of a mixture between a war movie and a play.

The music of Atonement is just staggering. The film consists of a score composed by Dario Marianelli who also composed such hits as V for Vendetta and Pride & Prejudice. The film's score is just phenomenal because of how well it goes with the movie. The music has a very sweet melody that is played using a piano and it sounds just wonderful. I mean at first, it doesn't really get to you, but give it time and you will see how fantastic it just sounds. There was some bass here and there, but nothing too amazing. The movie is also dialogue driven so voices are very clear and crisp. I really enjoyed the soundtrack for the film simply because it was very convincing and lovely. I felt moved by it.

Atonement is a great film that deserves everyone of those nominations. The story is very good with the plot getting only more interesting by the minute. The cast is marvelous with many of them giving Oscar performances. The visual look of the movie is amazing in many ways with its colorful, but dark images. The music is outstanding with the film boasting a powerful, but lovely score. I very much enjoyed Atonement even though it started off alittle slow. I think if you have seen Pride & Prejudice then you should be at home with this film. If you haven't seen Pride & Prejudice, but like these romantic movies then Atonement would do it for you. I highly recommend this film if your trying to find a great movie to watch.

Grade: B


patrick said...

Atonement looked and felt a lot like Pride and Prejudice... come to think of it, both movies have the same director, leading lady, both are based on books and both take place in England

Farzan said...

yeah, almost same crew. I enjoyed both movies, but liked Atonement alittle more