Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on January 18, 2019
A crushing war film with a tragic romance.

Atonement (2007) is still one of the most heartbreaking romance films ever made. It crosses the genre boundaries creating at atmosphere of a psychological drama in its character study of Briony Tallis, the trauma ridden warfare with Robbie Turner's WWII experience, the star-crossed love of Cecilia Tallis, and the period drama of the entire family all in one massive film.

Joe Wright's direction is impeccable relying on clever editing and astonishing score synchronized with the on screen movement. Wright goes from romantic views from the English countryside to a stellar long panning shot on the beaches of World War II. Whether Wright is directing a quiet day in English or a combat zone in France, everything in Atonement is stunning to behold.

Atonement captures the naivety of adolescence next to forbidden love and unrequited love. It's themes of forgiveness, kindness, morality, love, hatred, and of course atonement all feel so close to heart centered around WWII.

The performances are particularly outstanding in Atonement. Keira Knightley plays the forlorn woman who never got to marry her beloved with a tragic and upsetting realism. James McAvoy gives understandable rage and sensitive romance to Robbie Turner's ill fated life. Vanessa Redgrave lends a sincerity and subtle quiet to her elder Briony Tallis depiction that really ties Atonement together in a nice bow.

The real standout for me is still Saoirse Ronan as the childhood Briony Tallis. Her fitful and willful ignorance to the pain she causes around her is astonishing. Ronan plays Briony with a maturity and knowing well beyond her years as an actress. Her mesmerizing glares at her sister Cecilia and her longing gazes at Robbie yield much more inner turmoil that I'd realized. Saoirse carries Atonement to new heights of character study with her portrayal of this upset, spoiled child with serious problems. Her certainty of her crime and merriment at the tragedy of others is hard to watch, but makes Saoirse a great villain in Atonement. Saoirse makes Briony fascinating and intriguing. Her large blue eyes constantly reveal new flaws in Briony's character. I am glad Ronan built a strong acting career after Atonement. She deserved it!

Atonement is a depressing, yet thoughtful take on World War II combat and childhood crushes alike. It tackles more adults themes on mistakes, pain, guilt, and forgiveness that expected. It is worth watching regardless of the genre that you like most in Atonement.
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