Atonement Reviews

Top Critic
Bob Mondello
NPR.org
October 18, 2008
Joe Wright directs Atonement with an eye to framing each performance with spectacularly vivid images, including a genuinely breathtaking tracking shot on the bloody, wreckage-strewn beach at Dunkirk.
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Christopher Orr
The New Republic
September 22, 2008
Atonement is a film out of balance, nimble enough in its first half but oddly scattered and ungainly once it leaves the grounds of the Tallis estate.
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David Fear
Time Out
January 18, 2008
Atonement's extraordinary qualities outweigh any quibbles.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/6
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Kenneth Turan
Newsday
January 14, 2008
One of the few adaptations that gives a novel the film it deserves.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
December 20, 2007
A film that instantly joins the ranks of the great screen romances.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
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Connie Ogle
Miami Herald
December 14, 2007
The interpretation is so painstaking and moving that almost every moment delivers a shuddering jolt to the head and the heart.
| Original Score: 4/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
December 14, 2007
This is a film that might have contained itself better, but it still stings with bitter truth.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Bruce Newman
San Jose Mercury News
December 13, 2007
In its first 45 minutes, Atonement achieves a kind of perfection rare even for big Oscar-bait movies. Every facet of the filmmaking is the equal of any picture released this year. The rest of the movie isn't so bad.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
December 10, 2007
Atonement has hints of greatness but I think it falls just short of Oscar contention.
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Ray Bennett
Hollywood Reporter
December 7, 2007
It ranks with the best novel adaptations of recent times.
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
December 7, 2007
As good a film as one could imagine having been made from a great work of contemporary fiction.
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Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star
December 7, 2007
Atonement is not only too polite but maddeningly orderly, resulting in a prettily cast, professionally performed, impeccably mounted bore.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
December 7, 2007
On paper and on screen, Atonement is a story of rare beauty, both wrenching and wise.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
December 7, 2007
Atonement takes a familiar movie environment, a setting that we think we know, and uses it for an examination of a host of dark impulses, such as jealousy, lust, cruelty and deceit.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
December 7, 2007
A gripping film.
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
December 7, 2007
Director Joe Wright and screenwriter Christopher Hampton not only blow the Merchant-Ivory dust off the British period movie, they transform Ian McEwan's interior novel into a sweeping epic that speaks to the 21st-century soul.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
December 7, 2007
It is an amazing story, filled with quiet moments of profundity and more surprises than you could imagine.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Minneapolis Star Tribune
December 7, 2007
Christopher Hampton's screenplay respects the literary focus of Ian McEwan's novel without falling into the trap of becoming uncinematic.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
December 7, 2007
These performers not only have the looks for a sweeping love story, they also have the skill to throw themselves into the proceedings like they really mean it.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
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Eric Harrison
Houston Chronicle
December 7, 2007
It is mindful art doubling as unapologetic entertainment, an ode to eros and errors assembled with vision and meticulous care.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
December 7, 2007
Craft is everywhere in the film, in many touches that make it elegantly forceful.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
December 7, 2007
Atonement does what a tragic romance is supposed to do.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
December 7, 2007
Given the difficulties in transferring Ian McEwan's trickily structured 2001 novel Atonement to the screen, director Joe Wright and screenwriter Christopher Hampton have done a commendable job. Commendable but not electrifying.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
December 7, 2007
The movie never goes as deep as the novel (no movie could), but it's a worthy approximation: a Merchant-Ivory movie that turns in on itself with a lucid and painful sigh.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
December 7, 2007
This is one of the year's best films, a certain best picture nominee.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
December 6, 2007
Wright has made a film that honors the imaginative responsibility of an adapter.
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
December 6, 2007
The arc and resolution don't feel nearly as absorbing and devastating as McEwan's masterful novel.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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A.O. Scott
New York Times
December 6, 2007
Atonement is an almost classical example of how pointless, how diminishing, the transmutation of literature into film can be.
| Original Score: 2/5
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
December 6, 2007
Now and then you find a period picture that affords this sort of rightness of scale and satisfaction.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
December 6, 2007
Screenwriter Christopher Hampton and director Joe Wright have smartly dramatized the book's wartime romance and tragedy.
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
December 6, 2007
In the almost spookily capable hands of 34-year-old director Joe Wright, the film version of Atonement has achieved that to which every literary adaptation should aspire.
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Keith Phipps
AV Club
December 6, 2007
With the Ian McEwan novel adaptation Atonement, it's obvious that Joe Wright -- who made his big-screen debut with 2005's deft, affecting version of Pride & Prejudice -- knows how to shepherd a novel to the screen.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
December 6, 2007
Part highbrow British drawing-room drama, part gritty war film, all entertainment almost all the time, Atonement is a masterful study of both the hurtful and redemptive effects of imagination.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
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Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
December 6, 2007
An impeccable craftsman in the tradition of David Lean, Wright possesses the late director's considerable gifts for drawing out his actors.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Ella Taylor
Village Voice
December 6, 2007
Where McEwan whispers, Wright shouts.
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
December 5, 2007
It's just exceptionally well-crafted.
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
December 5, 2007
The film is gorgeous to look at, well paced (especially during the first half), and by turns touching and sad. The ending packs an emotional punch, which is what one would expect from any movie developed from a McEwan novel.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
December 5, 2007
One of the most successful adaptations of a distinguished novel I have ever seen.
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Rex Reed
New York Observer
December 5, 2007
Atonement is everything a true lover of literature and movies could possibly hope for. It is unquestionably, without any reservations, my favorite film of the year.
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David Ansen
Newsweek
December 3, 2007
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.
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Anthony Lane
New Yorker
December 3, 2007
I hardly believed a word of it.
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
December 3, 2007
The film is absorbing and evocative.
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Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
November 28, 2007
[This] movie is abundantly attractive, every scene serenely composed, and every character so fair in love and war that, when the lights come up, it's too easy to say, ''That was good and sad and romantic and classy, now what's for dinner?''
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
November 28, 2007
It's some kind of miracle. Written, directed and acted to perfection, Atonement sweeps you up on waves of humor, heartbreak and ravishing romance.
| Original Score: 4/4
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Globe and Mail
September 6, 2007
There's much to admire about this adaptation of the Ian McEwan novel, enough that its occasional faltering can be easily forgiven.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Derek Elley
Variety
August 30, 2007
Rarely has a book sprung so vividly to life, but also worked so enthrallingly in pure movie terms.
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Dave Calhoun
Time Out
April 19, 2007
A noble, well-made, superbly performed and photographed (by Seamus McGarvey) semi-failure.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/6