Atonement DVD Review

Atonement: The Movie & The Book

Misunderstanding Leads to Tragedy

This movie is a drama/tragedy directed by Joe Wright*. It is based on Ian McEwan’s critically acclaimed novel of the same name. It tells the tale of thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis, who misunderstands several exchanges between her sister, Cecilia and Robbie Turner, who is a servant’s son and also a family friend. Briony’s confusion causes her to misunderstand yet another situation she witnesses, and she ends up accusing Robbie of molesting her young cousin. Her accusation changes the lives of all of the main characters of the movie irrevocably.

*See more films by Joe Wright and books by Ian McEwan listed below the COMMENTS box.

Filmed by Seamus McGarvey

Stunning Cinematography

I liked the technical aspects of this film better than the story, which I actually found to be a bit thin and weak. However, the music, cinematography, locations and lovely actors were enough to keep me with it. If you enjoy the craft of film making you will enjoy this movie. As entertainment, I found it lacking. The camera work by Seamus McGarvey was incredibly impressive with many beautifully framed shots and very effective long takes of the beautiful and interesting locations. The first part of the movie was filmed entirely on location in a stunning English manor house and it's grounds. The opening scene is a very long tracking shot that carries us through the house, and it is gorgeous. Each scene was beautifully framed, with a very effective color palette that really set the mood for each act of the movie. There were several times during the movie when I froze the frame to study the picture and take in the detail. In fact, if you click on the Amazon link to the movie, you will find a gallery of stunning stills displayed at Amazon. The scenes of Dunkirk and WWII era England seem to be accurate and are quite gripping. A powerful long take on the beach at Dunkirk is a memorable and remarkable moment in this film.

A Remarkable Soundtrack

 The music by Dario Marianelli (Composer) and Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Performer) was arresting and very creatively done and really added to the story. I especially liked the use of a manual typewriter as an instrument in the opening scenes and several subsequent scenes.

Classic Vanessa Redgrave

Seamless Casting

Also, the casting was quite good. Pretty Keira Knightley and handsome James McAvoy are charming in their roles. The child, Saoirse Ronan, and young woman, Romola Garai, who play Briony, through most of the movie were lovely. They blended smoothly with each other and with Vanessa Redgrave who makes an appearance near the end of the film as mature Briony.

Using a Five Star rating system, I would give this movie Three Stars.

TRIVIA : Keira Knightley played Guinevere in King Arthur !

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Comments 21 comments

Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

I really like this movie specially the twist in the ending, Nice review. Thanks for sharing :D


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 7 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you!  Yeah, I liked it.  The story kind of grew on me, but I really enjoyed so many other aspects of the movie that the story was quite secondary! :)


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

I was hesitant to read this hub in case it disclosed too much... could have rested easy, great review Suzanne, and now I think I NEED to catch this one. Was kinda waiting for it to pop on cable, lazy dudess that I am, but now you've given me reasons to move it! :-)


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 7 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks, Elena! I think you will like it. Rest easy! I NEVER reveal too much in a movie review! I hate it when reviewers tell you the whole story! :D


Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

I know what you mean Suzanne or probably! LOL the typewriter and its cadence that sounds like a heartbeat, the Kurosowa-esque vantage points and flashbacks! yes there so many things to like in this movie :D


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

Oh stop already, Cris, I said I'd catch it, don't rub it in!! Laugh! Good night every one and all!


Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Ooops sorry mi senorita, I got carried away! Go catch it already :D


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

I hadn't read the book so I really enjoyed the movie! Usually having read a book before seeing the film version always leaves me tilting in favour of the book!


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 7 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks, Feline! :) I haven't read the book either, but I plan to. Reviews I have read by people who read the book and then saw the movie were all quite favorable.


Iphigenia 7 years ago

I liked this film - but I agree it was thin in parts, I think that the novel must have been particularly hard to adapt (I speak as an aspiring screenwriter so I always read the book, watch the film read the screenplay - drives all my mates mad !).

Atonement questions the divide between fiction and reality - which is easier to portray in a book where the reader uses her mind's eye and own experiences to interpret what is unfolding in the story, than on the screen - where a scriptwriter, director, cameraman, lighting person and then finally the actors have each added some interpretation. this point is true for most adaptations to film (as opposed to an original screenplay).

The soundtrack was superb and Dario Marianelli quite rightly won an Oscar for his composition.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 7 years ago from Texas Author

Yes, thanks for mentioning the Oscar. You know, it's funny, I watched the Special Features when I watched the DVD specifically because I wanted to hear more about the music, and it was not mentioned once. Then I started watching the film again with the director's commentary because I thought they would surely say something about it right at the start where the music is so transfixing. Not one word! I didn't rewatch the whole movie with director's commentary. He may have mentioned it eventually, but I thought it was pretty strange that the music got so little recognition from the director on the DVD.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

OK - I'm convinced, will try it.

Thanks for the review!


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 7 years ago from Texas Author

My pleasure! I hope you enjoy it! :)


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

Suzanne, I just watched the movie. Caught it on cable, whaddaya know. I don't want to spoil it for anyone else that comes around to read the review, but gosh, let me just say that Briony and her "misunderstanding" send me to bed in a huff. And that's all I'm going to say about the little B...riony. Laugh.

I loved the story, full tilt drama, right up my alley!


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

Great movie, enjoyed it!


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 7 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks for the comment, Cindy! I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

Yes, Elena, she certainly did stir up a peck of trouble, didn't she? ;)


jayb23 profile image

jayb23 6 years ago from India

Suzanne, thanks for the review. Iam on my way downloading this movie. BTw you should consider getting royalties from the makers :-)


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks, JayB! I hope you enjoy it! :)


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas Author

I have since tried to read the book and found it deadly dull. I think the cinematography, sets, costumes, music and casting really made this movie for me!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

I have not seen this movie nor read the book. From your analysis, while the filming is good, the story line is a bit thin and others agree. Think I will pass unless it is shown on television at some date in time and I just want to relax and have nothing better to do. Thanks for the review. Up and useful.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 3 years ago from Texas Author

Yeah, it's a good zoning out movie. Lovely to look at but a bit arduous to follow! :D

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