Friday, August 29, 2008


So what is this one about?
Netflix tells us,
In this drama based on the critically acclaimed novel by Ian McEwan, a childhood lie irrevocably changes the lives of several people forever. When 13-year-old Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) misinterprets a moment of flirtation between her older sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and a servant's son, Robbie Turner (James McAvoy), her confusion causes her to finger Robbie as the perpetrator of a crime. Brenda Blethyn and Vanessa Redgrave co-star in this Oscar nominee for Best Picture.
And how much did I pay to watch?
Nothing, because I got this dvd as a gift for my last birthday (5 months ago).

And what did I think?
Good god almighty. I have waited five months to watch this movie because I wanted to put it off. You know like when you're reading a really good book (World War Z) and you want to read it slowly because you don't want it to be over? That how I was with Atonment. I read the book in November when I was in Norway and I loved it. I mean, I loved it loved it. I think it was my favorite book of the year. Unquestioned. (I mean, I did pretty much only read all the Harry Potter books and Atonement, so I dunno that it was a fair contest.) So I've put off watching it because I've been afraid...the book was so amazing I knew the movie probably couldn't live up to it. I wanted to keep the book in my mind for as long as possible, for fear that the movie would ruin it.

Turns out, big surprise, the movie wasn't as good as the book. But, the movie didn't ruin the book. In fact, I went and ordered the book online so I could read it again. The movie was better than the book in that it had two incredibly sexy actors who had amazing, off the screen smoking hot, chemistry with each other. It almost broke my heart to watch them together (god, I'm such a soft hearted tragic romantic), god there were times that weren't sad or tragic during the movie when some sort of water started coming out of my eyes. I mean, I guess it was a little dusty ;)

Unfortunately, where the film failed compared to the book was the density of the story. The book had 300 pages to build background and fill out the plot so it was flawless. The movie had to severely abridge the content of the book to fit into a reasonable, and workable, film. Whereas in a book you can use a narrator, in a movie it doesn't work as well if the narrator isn't a character.

There was an interesting method that the film makers used to capture a bit of the essence of the book. Throughout the book the author used different narrator's points of view to show how the same event could be interpreted in different ways. The movie used this method, but I don't know that it was entirely effective.

The first part of the movie was amazing, I think it was truest to the book. However, the second and third part seemed awful thin. Perhaps because I've read the book and understand everything that happened in the story it seemed like the film didn't do a good enough job of explaining what was going on. It is hard for me to tell if a movie made based on a book explains enough to make sense to someone who didn't read the book.

I also think the end came too quickly and didn't stick enough to the book. In the novel the build up made the reader think that things would work out well. The slow unraveling made it more poignant for the reader. In the film the ending came so quickly that there wasn't the same emotional build and connection for the audience.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
Man. As I've already alluded to, it is difficult for me to separate the book from the film. The book had amazing advantages that the film didn't have. But the film had an advantage of two gorgeous and sickeningly sexy actors who had amazing chemistry that just ripped my heart out. To see the story on the screen rather than in my imagination was quite a delight.

I can't really rate how good this movie was because reading the book makes it impossible for me to judge the two things separately. As a movie it doesn't get a 10. I guess probably an 8 or a 9 would be reasonable. So, I'll give it an 8.5.

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