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Atonement

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

United Kingdom, France, USA

2007

Rated R • 2h 3m

Director Joe Wright

Starring Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Romola Garai, Saoirse Ronan

Genre Drama, Romance

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As a 13-year-old, fledgling writer Briony Tallis irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister's lover of a crime he did not commit. Once Briony is older, she must accept what she did as a child and try to heal her relationships.

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WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?

Meagen Tajalle Profile picture for Meagen Tajalle

Atonement is one of those rare novel adaptations that is extraordinarily cinematic. The richness of the characters and the depth of the world they inhabit both signal a weighty source material, but the film is expertly adapted in that it emulates the spirit of the book and evokes the same emotions through a different narrative medium without employing a novelistic approach.

Hannah Benson Profile picture for Hannah Benson

I remember rewatching this film after reading the book for a class in high school. Saoirse Ronan's Performance is great as young Briony. Keira Knightley and James McAvoy are both great too. The film represents the book well by keeping the first part from Young Briony's point of view. Keira Knightley's green dress still stands out in my memory of favorite costume choices.

Kelsey Thomas Profile picture for Kelsey Thomas

An emotional watch that really immerses you in the world of the characters and the many consequences of their actions, beginning and ending — rightly so — with Briony’s perspective. The weight that our words carry, even as children, follows us into adulthood, as this film makes tragically clear. How can you right a wrong when you don’t even realize it’s a wrong until it’s too late? Statements, especially of the accusatory sort, cannot be retracted so easily, a powerful realization that stuck with me as it stuck to Briony.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

70

Village Voice by

Wright wouldn't recognize unobtrusive if it tapped him on the nose--he's cross- pollinated the first half of Atonement into an Oscar-buzzy brew of Masterpiece Theatre and "Upstairs, Downstairs," with the wild English countryside tamed into an artfully lit fairy glade, and into just enough of a bodice-ripper to reel in the youth market. And not a bad one at that.
60

The New Yorker by Anthony Lane

You have to admire it, when so much of the competition seems inane and slack, but you can’t help wondering, with some impatience, what happened to its heart.
100

Newsweek by David Ansen

No two-hour film could ever capture all the riches of McEwan's masterly novel. But Wright and Hampton's Atonement comes tantalizingly close, while adding sensual delights all its own.
100

Variety by Derek Elley

Rarely has a book sprung so vividly to life, but also worked so enthrallingly in pure movie terms, as with Atonement, Brit helmer Joe Wright’s smart, dazzlingly upholstered adaptation of Ian McEwan’s celebrated 2001 novel.
88

Chicago Tribune by Michael Phillips

Hampton and Wright have been more than sensible when it comes to Atonement. They’ve responded intuitively to a tale that is half art and half potboiler, like so many stories worth telling.
100

Rolling Stone by Peter Travers

Nothing in Joe Wright's screen version of Ian McEwan's dense, internalized 2001 novel of secrets and lies should really work, but damn near everything does. It's some kind of miracle. Written, directed and acted to perfection, Atonement sweeps you up on waves of humor, heartbreak and ravishing romance.

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