Have your say at urbanmoms.ca! Have you seen Atonement yet? Let us know what you thought in the comments section below & be sure to rate the number of stars you would give to Atonement. Five Stars – Run, don’t walk, to the theatre. Four Stars – Worth seeing. Three Stars – Not bad. Two Stars – Marginal. One Star – Do not waste your time.
I seem to have broken the cardinal rule of movies based on books twice in the last month. I went to see both The Golden Compass & Atonement, without reading the book first (I will wait for the collective gasp to cease). My excuse is that I have a deadly combination of sheer laziness & instant gratification within me. By the time I would get around to reading the book, the movie would no longer be in the theatre, & I wouldn’t be one of the "cool" recommenders, but rather the recommendee. And frankly I have this whole "Movie Mommy" image to live up to (he he he)! I asked my good friend, who went to the movie with me, which she prefers. Reading the book, then seeing the movie, or vice versa? Our general agreement was that the ideal is to read the book first, then see the movie. But she pointed out that she saw Bridget Jones’ Diary then read the book & was a bit disappointed with the literary version. I wonder if she would have had a different perspective if she experienced them in reverse? I guess I can’t figure out what is worse, reading the book & thus knowing the general plotline & ending when you sit down to watch the movie, or watching the movie & ruining the plot/ending of the book? Maybe it depends on what kind of person you are. I think that part of what I enjoy about seeing a movie after reading the book is that I get to see whether someone else’s visual interpretation of words on a page is the same as mine. I’m able to create my own idea of what Hogwarts, Boo Radley, or Forrest Gump look like, before I have someone else’s idea created for me.
So what do you do? Would you see a movie before you have read a book? Would you be more or less likely to read a book once you’ve seen the movie?
In Theatres Now
Atonement is the story of Briony Tallis, a young girl of 13, who tragically changes the lives of her sister (Cecelia) & her sister’s lover (Robbie Turner), because of a lie that she tells. Whether she tells the lie because she is too young to understand what she sees, or because she herself has a crush on her sister’s lover, is never truly explained, but I suspect that it is a combination of the two. Briony’s lie tears Cecelia & Robbie apart, as Robbie is hauled off to prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
We then follow Robbie, Briony & Cecelia, four years later, as their lives begin to intersect once again. Robbie has enlisted in the army & is in France trying to make it to Dunkirk to be rescued, after the British troops were separated from the French Army due to the advancing Germans. Cecelia is a nurse in London & is estranged from the rest of her family. The connection between the two of them is maintained through the letters that they write to each other, always promising to come back to one another. Briony has decided to forgo University & follow her older sister’s lead in becoming a nurse for the Red Cross. Briony believes that becoming a nurse is the most useful thing she can do with her life, possibly she subconsciously believes it is the only way to give back for her one great misdeed.
Finally we are brought to the present day with Briony being an accomplished novelist & explaining the true story behind her final novel "Atonement."
One of the main complaints I have heard about this movie is that it jumps around a lot, both forward & backward in time. Personally I thought that this was essential to the movie, because you needed to see Briony’s view of the events unfolding, before you could see what truly happened. It helped to explain how she came to her eventual disastrous conclusion. You realize by the end of the movie that it is truly Briony’s story you are watching, athough because of her lie, Cecelia & Robbie’s lives will forever be entwined with her’s. Briony is played by three different actresses at three different ages (Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, & Vanessa Redgrave), & each of them do an incredible job of making you empathize with a character who is responsible for such pain. Although Briony is remorseful, she never seems to grow up, partially to shield herself from the true ramifications of what she did. Keira Knightly & James McAvoy are fabulous in the roles of Cecelia & Robbie. Their one intimate moment together in the library (which of course Briony witnesses & totally misunderstands) will literally leave you breathless. You honestly could have heard a pin drop at that moment in the packed theatre that we were in. I also enjoy that James McAvoy doesn’t see himself as much of a leading man. He says that he is "Scottish, short, & has pasty-skin", which he believes doesn’t add up to your normal "Brad Pitt"-type of leading man. Frankly I loved him even more for it (check him out in this amazing interview).
Everything about this movie is beautiful. The locations. The sets. The costumes. The people. The acting. There is a 5 1/2 minute uncut steady-cam shot when Robbie arrives on the beach at Dunkirk that literally leaves your head spinning. It is the kind of movie that the big awards shows just fork over awards for, & rightfully so (although it seems we won’t have a Golden Globes show this year, which is a bit of a bummer that great movies like this won’t get recognition). I was hooked from the first minute & its 2+ hours just flew by as I was engrossed in the story of these characters lives. It had me hook, line, & sinker with the "big twist" at the end, but you aren’t gonna get anything more about that out of me! I really want to give it 5 stars, my only hesitation is that I feel like you could possibly wait to rent it on DVD. The only movie I’ve given 5 stars to is Juno, & I felt the need to tell anyone & everyone that they must see it. I didn’t quite get that same feeling with Atonement. There is no doubt I would recommend it to others, but it is not necessarily a "must-rush-out-& see-right-now"-movie.