“Atonement” Review ✦✦✦✦✦

16 December, 2016

Year of Release: 2007
Director: Joe Wright
Screenwriter: Christopher Hampton
Director of Photography: Seamus McGarvey
Cast: Keira Knightly, James McAvoy

Synopsis: During the outbreak of WWII, a young girl with a fanciful imagination sets into motion a crippling chain of events when she misinterprets a servant boy’s affections for her older sister as something more sinister.

Atonement Review:

Visual storytelling at its absolute finest, “Atonement” is a film of unparalleled grace where the touch of a hand and the click of a typewriter speak a thousand words in a story of love and loss. Christopher Hampton adapts a novel centred on a catastrophic spiral of events, fusing an account of doomed romance with a gritty take on WWII as a generation of characters experience horror and heartbreak amidst far greater threats to their homeland. It’s a story of time, place, and character as an entire war is condensed into the anguish of young lovers ripped apart by a terrible case of misunderstanding.

“Atonement” is scattered with motifs and delicate exchanges as scenes play out from multiple perspectives in a film that wordlessly criticises the immature actions of a spoiled 13-year-old. Outside of its clipped moments of injury and bloodshed, the movie obsessively looks back on itself as it reassesses and rewrites its narrative while looking for more palatable answers. “Atonement”‘s fleeting moments of passion feel so intimate and real that its alternative perspectives are rendered almost unbearable in visual juxtapositions that analogise sex and love with indecency and rape.

Joe Wright presents a film conducted so astutely and with such precision that the texture of its aesthetic feels like fresh parchment still warm to the touch. It’s a gorgeous, timeless movie about the unbearable suffering caused by manipulation and destruction, a forgotten masterpiece about the origins of cause and effect in a time where people need love and compassion more than conflict.


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