James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan
Directed by Joe Wright
Based on the novel by Ian McEwan
13-year-old Briony Tallis (Ronan) is not quite old enough to understand love and the unspoken meaning behind actions. She misinterprets a moment between her older sister Cecilia (Knightley) and a servant’s son Robbie (McAvoy) that lead to a downward spiraling of events to take place. Briony is horrified by the scene in which she enters upon, finding Cecilia and Robbie in a compromising position in a study. Her image of Robbie’s perfection is shattered and when a turn of events take place after a family dinner, she takes part in condemning Robbie for a crime he did not commit. It’s only years later that she realizes the grave mistake she had made and goes about her way trying to make amends.
Based off of Ian McEwan’s novel about the loss of love during a war, Atonement captures the harsh realism of war and how not every romance has a happy ending. Robbie chooses to go the military path instead of rotting in a jail cell, and he is taken far away from any chance of happiness. Cecilia alienates herself from her family, disgusted with how easily they could ruin an innocent life over a lie, and works with hospitals, nursing those who return from the bloody fields of war. The film shows glimpses of the rare time Robbie and Cecilia get together before he is deployed back to France. It’s a heartbreaking scene when after three years they reunite, changed after all they had been through.
Atonement is a dramatic love story in which the characters all have their own sympathies from Briony’s youthful naivety to Robbie’s innocent love and to Cecilia’s hidden feelings for someone she felt she shouldn’t love. It’s a movie that brings viewers to tears.