Atonement is a period piece that shows how a series of misunderstandings can potentially destroy a man's life. When you look at the cast list you will see why the biggest strength of this film is the acting. James McAvoy has some particularly complex emotional moments and I thought he handled them brilliantly. The story structure was a concern for me, because it was a bit disorienting and sometimes made it a challenge to see what exactly was going on when. It didn't flow particularly because of how they would replay scenes from a different perspective. Once I was comfortable that I knew what was going on within this strange narrative I was fully engaged. The setups and payoffs in the first half were pretty obvious, but that didn't stop them from being effective. When we break into the third act is when my interest really waned. I was more interested in the relationship stuff between Keira Knightley and McAvoy, but the film decided it was time to show us the devastation of war. There is one sequence that goes on seemingly for ages, and the only reason I could find for this scene to be in the film is that it is trying to convince us that war is hell. It just didn't fit in the rest of the movie I was watching. Without delving into spoilers I will just say, the conclusion is tough to accept, but I think that speaks to my investment in the characters leading up to that point. Atonement is certainly a beautiful film with amazing performances, but the story failed to deliver all the way from start to finish for me.