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*** Official ATONEMENT Review Thread

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#1 of 8 OFFLINE   Kirk Tsai

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Posted December 07 2007 - 12:38 PM

I saw this film in the UK a couple months ago, but I saw the NY Times pan today, so it looks like it's finally being released in the US. I think the British newspapers all went ga ga over the picture, and I know Adam S has spoken very highly of it. So here are my thoughts. The elegant camera moves and long takes of Wright's Pride and Prejudice has probably come even further in Atonement. There is one spectacular take late in the film that traces our lead character on a war torn beach. It's utterly stunning, but I agree with AO Scott that it's also a technical show off, rather than a genuine emotional powerhouse. The film loses focus after the Big Accusation (you'll understand if you see it), and meanders too much for my tastes. I don't deny the end of the picture is moving. Vanessa Redgrave is fine, but I don't she should be nominated for her supporting role. I would not be surprised if James McAvoy is recognized during the awards season. As a technical exercise, it's quite good, from the cinematography to the very integrated Dario Marianelli score (an approach not frequently enough take by film composers). The biggest problem I had with the film was the casting of the teenage Briony. The young actress who plays the pre-teenage Briony has a light in her eyes. She is a bright and canny character. But, by the time the older Briony shows up, she is saintly and without wit. I understand the idea is for her to feel the shame and to atone her sins, but the two actresses are not playing the same character. By the time Redgrave shows up, I could identify her more with the younger actress. I think it would have been more interesting if the teenage Briony was cast as a sharper woman, making her atonement especially felt. In the picture now, it's as if Mother Teresa had come to recognize her wrongfulness, and it's less powerful because of that.

#2 of 8 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted December 08 2007 - 01:53 AM

This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Atonement". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.




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#3 of 8 OFFLINE   Shawn.F


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Posted December 08 2007 - 02:35 AM

I caught this earlier this week. I thought it was good, a solid drama, but not quite as great as some of the critics have stated. Technically, the film is excellent. Seamus McGarvey's cinematography, Dario Marianelli's score and Catherine Hodgson's sound editing are all award worthy, and the performances are strong across the board. Yet, I felt oddly detached from the events onscreen for most of the film. There are moments where the film is truly moving, mostly during the third act, but overall I just felt that Christopher Hampton's screenplay adaptation didn't go deep enough to develop the characters or events to really make a lasting emotional impact. I also felt that Joe Wright's directing was good, making the best of Hampton's screenplay, but at times Wright seemed more interested in the visual more than storytelling aspects of the story. If Hampton and Wright had gone a bit further, we would be talking about one of the best romantic dramas made in the past decade (at least since 'The English Patient'). As it is, 'Atonement' is merely a good one. Three stars out of four. EDIT: Sorry Robert, I thought I was posting this in the 'Review' thread for the film. Can you move this to the review thread? Thanks. -Shawn

#4 of 8 OFFLINE   Chuck Mayer

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Posted December 16 2007 - 03:45 AM

I saw this Friday. I have not seen Pride or Prejudice, nor have I read the novel.

I wasn't terribly moved or impressed by the film. It felt like "The English Patient"-Lite. It's fairly well-made, and the acting is above average. However the story isn't terribly compelling, and the characters (except Briny) are not fleshed out much. The ending was quite obvious from early on, and it felt like a jackhammer when it should have felt a bit more subtle.

The big beach scene is technically excellent, but narratively unimportant. I enjoyed the Briny nurse scenes quite a bit. Maybe I'd like it more if I were British Posted Image

By no means a bad film, but very little originality or depth. I can see how critics and the HFPA might be ga-ga over it, but I wasn't.

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#5 of 8 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted December 30 2007 - 12:54 PM

I'll echo my sentiments that technically, the film is very good (direction, cinematography, sets, costumes), though the story lacks an emotional undercurrent, mainly because it has a bit of dishonest storytelling at its core, so any character development you might have enjoyed evaporates in the last act of the film, and whatever angst and tugging of heart strings rings hollow and false. The acting is uneven for the lead character of Briony causing tonal shifts from the 1st act to the middle act which causes the film to run out of steam prematurely, which undermines the concept of "atonement" for Briony as the film concludes. I give it 2.75 stars, or a grade of B-.
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#6 of 8 OFFLINE   Claire Panke

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Posted December 31 2007 - 09:43 PM

Yikes, I think you're all...WRONG! Wrong wrong wrong. Lol, sorry gents, I shall return with details later but I think this is one of the years' best. I was originally skeptical of Joe Wright when P&P was coming out...but he made a believer out of me - Wright IMO is the real deal. I think Atonement is a fine adpatation of a very difficult novel and I liked it far better than ever I did The English Patient. I'll tell you why in detail after I've had some sleep.

#7 of 8 OFFLINE   Jan H

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Posted January 01 2008 - 02:33 PM

Claire's right, and you're wrong, fellas. It's the 3rd best film of the year. English Patient, it ain't. It's far better. But I'll digress until Claire chimes in... Whoa, sorry... PLACEHOLDER

#8 of 8 ONLINE   DaveF



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Posted February 02 2008 - 02:47 PM

I saw Atonement tonight, and I left feeling somewhat cheated. There is a portion, past the dull beginning, where it really gets going with a cleverly told story of misunderstanding. It uses a temporally herky-jerky method to show an event with one meaning, and then replay it later in a fuller manner to show the true event. This drew me in and lit my imagination. But then this stopped and it went to being a dullish, angsty, war movie of sorts. It feels like a movie trying to be "art", doing the artistic things with the serious actors, and slow pacing, and beautiful camerawork, and story of thwarted love, and the horrors of war. But it never becomes art. It just plods along, with some pastiches of war horrors added in for -- well, who knows why, perhaps just to ensure an artistic run time of over two hours. No self-respecting serious art movie could clock in at 90 minutes, like some pedestrian Disney flick. No, an art movie shows Calvalry horses shot in the head on the beach in France for no purpose related to the actual story. Because it's art. Best Picture art. The ending salvages things somewhat, with a satisfyingly ironic end. So, it's OK. Not great. Not terrible. But it's this sort of "Best Film" nominee that makes me think that The Transformers should also be a Best Film contender; at least it was fun.

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