Atonement - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Atonement Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ June 18, 2013
Made me feel horribly sad, and a bit nauseous.
Super Reviewer
½ January 11, 2013
Joe Wright's 'Atonement' has a lot of positive things going for it, but none more brilliant and substantial than the film's cinematography and visuals. This includes, but is not limited to, a 5 minute tracking shot that never cuts away. It's pure, unadulterated filmmaking that we see less and less of. Not only filled with magnificent visuals, but each of the three leads fills their roles with great intensity and pathos, really creating something out of nothing when it comes to the script. The story feels a little blown out of proportion and the pace a little slow at times, but Wright makes sure it doesn't disappoint his audience. 'Atonement' does not have an astonishingly great story to tell, but its technical brilliance cannot be denied.
Super Reviewer
January 11, 2008
A faithful, well-acted, dramatic and sexy rendition of Ian McEwan's novel, which was itself an anachronism, a sort of throwback to the age of D.H. Lawrence and the kind of modernist maximalism he was known for. The film turns around the way in which the assault of a child is recounted - Robbie Turner is sent to jail, then to war, despite maintaining his innocence, and an imaginative 13-year-old is the primary witness. It's hard to go in-depth about this film without ruining the experience, but suffice to say, there is a frame here that you'll eventually get to step out of, and the story changes depending on who's telling it. All is revealed in the end, but until then just enjoy the varied and incredibly well-scored ride; there's a one-take of a war camp that's absolutely breathtaking.
Super Reviewer
½ October 22, 2012
Joe Wright has constructed a moving, portrait of love through war. Keira Knightley, James MacAvoy and Saoirse Ronan give towering performances not to be missed. Also featuring stunning cinematography and a fantastic, unique score by Dario Marianelli, Atonement is, if somewhat leisurely, a fantastic film that is not to be missed.
Super Reviewer
January 6, 2008
browsing the flixster reviews on my list, and i find most people who enjoy this movie just generally tag it as a WAR-EPIC-ROMANCE, a sort of hemingway-esque farewell to arms scenario with a much more lurid modern sexual episode in the library. so what is the ingredient that distinguishes atonement? ADOLESCENT VOYEURISM. and this is a movie abot briony, the malicious perverted peeping tom who deliberately sends her sister's lover into jail, and the movie is entirely her wet dreams!!! (people seem to miss the focus) why people identity with it? because we've all been there.

in most people's wishful thinking, this movie is about a dynamic romance torn apart by misunderstandings. a 13 year-old girl discovers her grown sister having sex with a family acquitance in her household library, and what follows is that the under-aged family nanny gets raped right afterwards. what happens is she mistakes her sister's precious boyfriend as rapist and reports him to the police. after realizing the consquences of her doings, she spends the rest of her life repenting over it. thus she writes a book called atonement just to grant them a falsified happy ending.

but the visage this movie applies is through the gaze of briony, the 13 year-old adolescent. the pleasure of watching atonement is peeping-tom-ism. the movie is not about the beauty of epic romance but the remorse of a pathetic voyeur, whose fright toward the discovery of her own sexuality and the danger of having your sexuality awakened in such early age before you acquires the art of coping with it. (very puritanical, i suppose).

the movie is presented through non-linear narratives from various perspectives, firstly briony's view, then the omniscient third-person visage, maybe occasionally the man's view or the woman's view. at last, you shall find out it is all happening within briony's mind. the more she reveals, the darker, the more vile the truth is. the truth is: she has a crush on her sister's boyfriend (she purposely jumps into the deep water just to have him save her, and risking your own life just for the attention of your crush hides something deeper and more fundamentally diseased beneath), but she is just 13 and she represses that. one day she discovers her much more matured, sensual and attractive sister having enchanted the man she loves, she gets pissed! she even reads his letter for her without permission (act of extreme jealousy)! she wants to punish him and her, and the best way is to report him as a rapist and ruin their lives. come on, she could have squared his record immediately but she waits more than 5 years, eventually just never! she claims to give up cambridge to be a nurse to compensate her sin so she could have remained an idealized sense of herself. as a matter of fact, she prefers to suffer just to have both of them doomed! even years of labors as a petite good nurse cannot ease off her vengeful desire for that! she cannot forgive them until she is about to die, till then, she could just give them a fictional happy ending. (in other words, she must have spent her whole life resenting cecilia for banging robbie, or vice versa)

atonement is not a romantic movie, and it should be a thriller about how dangerous your seemingly innocent little sister could have wretcked your life! why people've found it romantic and touching, because we were all briony wishing to be cecilia and robbie, and have that flamy kind of first love as they do. this movie floats through the gaze of briony, which is shared by the audience as well, we step into her shoes, understanding her panic, anguish, bitter jealousy meanwhile insanely envying the couple , and we are also hypocritical enough to bestow a virtual happy ending to the couple just to make oursevles feel better.

SPOILERS (adults only)
(ps) personally i enjoy the part james mcavoy types the letter for keira knightly, he is intended to pen her an innocent note of apology but he ends up composing a dirty poem "in my dreams/i wanna kiss your cunt/your sweet wet cunt" (oops!)...then he sends off the wrong note by mistake. it makes me laugh to think of how a frivolous little poem leads to a wild sexual encounter. (telling a chick how much you wish to endear yourself to her "genital" seems to work better than a polite note of sweet tenderness

honestly, if i were briony, yes, i might read the letter, or "accidentally" witness their lovemaking. but the normal reaction is to be scared and intimidated because you don't wanna lose your sister's camaraderie or secretly get excited for it. gee, how many times during adolescence my sister pretended to take me out but she went out dating instead. i had to be her camouflage for many many times.
Super Reviewer
August 13, 2010
Perfect! I absolutely loved it...
Super Reviewer
September 22, 2007
Pre-WWI, two lovers from different classes have the odds stacked against them. A lie and false witnesses cause irreversible damage. The movie is seen through the eyes of a girl called Bryony (Cecilia's sister, who is played by Keira). Keira gives her best performance yet. James is brilliant as Robbie. Modern day Romeo and Juliet -tragic love story.
Super Reviewer
½ June 5, 2011
Atonement isn't so much a romance as it is a stylistic, enthralling drama that explores the emotional maturity of a 13 year old girl.

There's an evident amount of uneven pacing that retracts my willingness to give this movie five stars. However you can't help but appreciate this carefully crafted story, full of subtleties that work well as both plot points and foreshadowing.

Combine that with an array of competent actors including Ronan and you've got yourself an incredibly successful adaptation.
Super Reviewer
April 28, 2009
Cast: Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Saoirse Ronan, Brenda Blethyn, Vanessa Redgrave, Romola Garai, Juno Temple, Michelle Duncan, Harriet Walter

Director: Joe Wright

Summary: When 13-year-old Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) discovers a lustful letter and witnesses a sexual encounter between her older sister (Keira Knightley) and a servant's son (James McAvoy), her confusion prompts her to finger the young man for a violent crime. Her half-truth changes their lives forever in this Oscar-nominated drama based on the critically acclaimed novel by Ian McEwan.

My Thoughts: "Great dramatic love story. I love Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in period pieces. They just fit the roles brilliantly. A really great job by a young Saoirse Ronan as Briony. All three actresses who played Briony were great. You believe these three actresses are one in this character. The story is quite bitter-sweet. *SPOILER MAYBE* You feel sympathy for Briony because she was never able to make piece with her sister or Robbie.*END OF SPOILER* I loved the way the film went back and forth to show you the lie and the truth. It made the story that much more easier to follow. I wouldn't mind seeing this again."
Super Reviewer
½ May 22, 2011
I'll be quite frank, I was apprehensive in watching Atonement for I thought it was going to be a cheesy love story that tried to tug at your emotions and be a typical Hollywood tear jerker. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't, in fact it was the opposite of what I thought this film was going to be. Sure theres the elements of romance, but theres also a backstory, that makes this film somewhat melancholic. After witnessing her older sister having sex with the box she loves, Briony accuses her sister's lover of a crime he did not commit. Their worlds now torn apart, Cecilia's lover is thrown in jail and released later under the condition he join the army. Atonement is a superbly crafted film. What I appreciate most about this film is that it's not a pathetic love story like the one in Titanic, but it's a sadder one. A better, more accomplished story than Titanic. Brilliantly acted by Keira Knightly and James McAvoy; Atonement is a love story with a twist. I don't normally like romance films, but the fact that the story had an interesting premise made this a watchable film. Atonement is a near flawless film that has a superb, talented cast and the film is simply phenomenal. Director Joe Wright crafts a solid picture and this romance film is the film to watch. I'd say that this is the best film of the genre since Memoirs Of A Geisha. A film worth seeing, Atonement is a well acted film with a strong story.
Super Reviewer
December 15, 2007
When I first saw the Atonement trailer, I wasn't very interested to see it, as I wasn't interested to see Pride And Prejudice. I still liked very much James McAvoy and through the trailer, I thought it seemed like a beautiful film.
I finally decided to go to the movies and see Atonement, especially because it is the main leader in the Golden Globes nominations.
From the first image to the last, I was fascinated by the beauty of every single aspects this film shows. The direction, the screenplay, the acting, the photography, the art direction, the orignial score, everything was filled with passion and greatness that made me think that if it wasn't for No Country For Old Men, Atonement would definitely be the best movie of the year !
Don't be suprised that this magistral movie leads the Golden Globes, it totally earned it.

Super Reviewer
January 5, 2011
Beautiful movie about how misunderstanding can be very dangerous for people. Many actors play Briony Tallis, and everyone seems to represent her well. Keira Knightley and James McAvoy shines. Many scenes are created to make an imlplicit signs. I liked how some scenes bring some questions and mysterious and then the director takes us to flashback and we understand better from different perspectives. Joe Wright as a director always bring us "unusual" movie yet beautiful. The ending makes me very sad and it's definitely not a typical hollywood movie.
Super Reviewer
½ April 23, 2008
"Yes. I saw him. I saw him with my own eyes."

It's past time I wrote a proper review for Atonement, as it's am excellent movie in all aspects and a personal favorite of mine.

I'm quite the fan of Joe Wright. He's talented enough to make Pride & Prejudice into a movie that both guys and girls could enjoy, and pairing him with Keira Knightley again for another historical piece is basically a guarantee for success. The man knows how to craft a good drama.

The first thing I love about Atonement is the cinematography. From the opening portions in the beautiful English countryside, to wartime London and the British evacuation at Dunkirk, this is a startlingly beautiful movie. Not a moment passes by without something eye-catching in the frame. From the settings to the costumes, it's a cinematic showcase.

Second, the cast is outstanding. This was the movie that made Keira Knightley one of my five favorite current actresses, and made me a fan of James McAvoy. It was also the movie that proved that Saoirse Ronan is easily the best actress of her age. All three actresses who played Briony at different ages were good, but Ronan had the task of defining the character for the other two women, as well as the most challenging role in the movie. Her Academy Award nomination was completely deserved, especially for one so young.

Third, this is an excellent adaptation of an excellent book. It's a movie that easily could have seemed disjointed because of the way it switches time periods, settings, and tone, but every part of it works and flows together. The changes from period drama to war film and back to drama are pulled off flawlessly.

So yeah, I think very highly of Atonement. Any time a movie takes a genre that I'm not a huge fan of and MAKES me a huge fan, I'm impressed. It has something for almost everyone, and it's just a well-crafted film. Check it out, even if this kind of thing isn't normally to your taste.
Super Reviewer
½ April 5, 2009
A top quality film, technically excellent in terms of production, cinematography, the score and a decent cast of actors. I'm not overly keen on dramas and at times this does feel a bit slow. However the ending was a real surprise and made it a classic tale of love, or be it a sad one.
Super Reviewer
½ July 30, 2010
The more I think about this movie, the more I realize how much I love it. Those who know me know I'm hardly an emotional individual, but the denouement of "Atonement" cracked me and brought me to tears. Of all the films that can be cited as sentimental, this one takes the cake. Sure, it has a fairly interesting plot and features some very good acting, but the emotional nature of this film simply can't be overlooked. This wholly remarkable film is one that will stick with me for years to come.
Super Reviewer
½ September 23, 2007
This critically acclaimed novel adaption did not manage to touch me as deeply as it obviously does many other viewers. The first half, although delivering the interesting premise of the film that makes it hard not to care, is a bit slow. Once the lies that trigger this sad cause of events throw McAvoy's character in the depths of World War 2 the film's rhythm gets a little bumpy. At the same time it delivers some incredibly filmed and stunningly beautiful scenes, especially the one of the troops in the coast town lasting minutes without a cut. The final twist is also pretty clever and has Vanessa Redgrave being as wonderful as so often. Romantics who insist on sad endings should get a kick out of this. It left me a bit indifferent in the end. What remains are the unforgettable images of the scenes.
Super Reviewer
July 11, 2010
"Atonement" is a film that drips with emotion. From anger, to lust, to longing, to depression; Joe Wright's film never hits the wrong notes. Speaking of notes, I love how they incorporated sounds and music into the score, it's very creative. Propelled by fine performances form James McAvoy, Keira Knightley and Saoirse Ronan, "Atonement" is a fine film worthy of praise. (Oh, not to mention that brilliant moving master shot, pure movie magic right there.)
Super Reviewer
October 12, 2007
A young man is sent to prison for attempted rape by circumstantial evidence and the testimony of a sexually confused and jealous young girl, leading to his conscription to the army and experiences in war torn France. The quivering lower lips and forlorn glances of a repressed love affair. Check. Picture postcard images of merry old England. Check. Haunting images of war. Check. Yes, this typically British period romance has all the elements that make it ripe for award nominations and the adoration of Daily Mail readers everywhere and it has the solid performances, vaguely intellectualized script and attractively over embellished visuals you would expect. It is also as rather pretentious, rather sterile and rather too pleased with itself. In other words, a decent wartime melodrama that's nowhere near as good as it thinks it is.
Super Reviewer
½ May 24, 2009
Interesting story. Very interesting story. Very sad, but very good. Well done.
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