Blu-ray Atonement [Blu-ray/DVD] (Blu-ray 16061578),
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On a sultry summer day in 1935, an upper-class British family prepares for a dinner party at their country estate. The players: Briony Tallis (newcomer Saoirse Ronan), a precocious preteen writer; her older sister, Cecilia (Keira Knightley), Cambridge graduate and femme fatale; Robbie Turner (James McEvoy), the housekeeper's mensch-y son, who carries a torch for Cecilia; and various visitors and family members. A series of misperceptions, fueled by the summer heat and Briony's childish hurts and fevered imagination, lead to a dramatic false accusation that lands Robbie in jail. We meet all three characters five years later in the thick of World War II, as foot soldier Robbie prepares for the Dunkirk evacuation and the two estranged sisters train as nurses in London.
Director Joe Wright (PRIDE AND PREJUDICE) deserves high praise for translating Ian McEwan's highly internalized, multilayered tale of guilt, redemption, and the power and limits of the artistic imagination, into a sumptuous visual feast that not only conveys the intricate plot points of the novel, but dives head-first into the emotional subtleties that make the story so wrenching. Whether any of the characters' actions are ultimately atoned for by the end of the film is a matter of perception, but Wright's sympathetic eye ensures that every player gets a fair trial. The young director favors long, lingering close-ups that trace every flicker of feeling--Ronan's luminous blue eyes clouding over with righteous gravity; the tremors of hurt and anger and love in McEvoy's sensitive face; the defiant jut of Knightley's jaw as it melts into tender affection. The honey-drizzled look of the first two-thirds of the film contrasts achingly with the tension and seriousness of the action unfolding (and the grim intensity of the wartime sections), and the scenes on the beach at Dunkirk include some of the most masterly camera work of any recent film. ATONEMENT is a powerful story, retold in a way that even diehard fans of the book will appreciate.
James McAvoy, Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Keira Knightley, Brenda Blethyn, Vanessa Redgrave
4 stars out of 5 -- "The cast measure up to the material....Knightley's sizzling allure has never been better captured..."
4 stars out of 5 -- "ATONEMENT is serious, sexy, profound, bitter and bold."
"Where the film is true to the book's spirit...is in its faith in the power of storytelling, the momentous sweep of history and heartache..."
Sight and Sound
5 stars out of 5 -- "An adaptation every bit as good as the novel -- complex, delicate and devastating."
"ATONEMENT the movie is beautifully photographed, and McAvoy and Knightley are excellent."
"[The] movie is abundantly attractive, every scene serenely composed..." -- Grade: B
"An assured and deeply moving work, ATONEMENT is at once one of the most affecting of contemporary love stories and a potent meditation on the power of fiction to destroy and create, to divide and possibly heal."
Los Angeles Times
"[A] beautifully composed and richly satisfying adaptation of Ian McEwan's modern novel ATONEMENT....So good it redeems our faith in intelligent drama."
4 stars out of 4 -- "Written, directed and acted to perfection, ATONEMENT sweeps you up on waves of humor, heartbreak and ravishing romance."
Ranked #2 in Rolling Stone's "10 Best Movies Of 2007" -- "Christopher Hampton brings Ian McEwan's 2002 novel to the screen with all of its fierce challenges intact."
"ATONEMENT is romantic, intelligent and finally shattering in its sweep and thematic complexity."
Wall Street Journal
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