The Red Right Hand

Joined By Love. Separated By Fear. Redeemed By Hope.

Joe Wright

Keira Knightley
James McAvoy

Fantastically adapted from Ian McEwan's widely praised and revered novel, Atonement is an exceptional movie that should not be missed. Similarly to McEwan's other novels, the story is difficult to categorise, bleeding themes of drama, romance and war into one another. The story focuses on a pretentious young playwright, Briony [Saoirse Ronan/Romola Garai/Vanessa Redgrave] and her misreading of the signals darting back and forth between her sister, Cecilia [Knightley] and the gardener, Robbie [McAvoy]. After her cousin is assaulted in the night, Briony accuses Robbie, who is torn from Cecilia, shamed and sent to prison. Years later, Briony has followed in her sister's footsteps and become a nurse, doing her bit for the war-effort. Robbie, heartbroken over what might have been is traversing baron fields in France, searching for the sea, trying to get home during the great retreat of Dunkirk.

The story can be divided into three segments, marked by different eras in Briony's life. To say anything of the plot would simply jeopardise your enjoyment of the piece so I will delicately describe what I can without giving away too much. The key elements to focus on are the acting, the lavish sets, the cinematography and editing. The story itself is obviously praiseworthy and as a fan of the book, I cannot recommend it higher. The portrayal of the characters is loyally recreated by a wealth of esteemed and well-established acting talent, most interesting for me was the reunion of James McAvoy and Romola Garai, who starred opposite each other in the enchanting Inside, Iím Dancing.

As a period piece, the costumes, sets and aesthetic feel needs to be spot-on and couldnít be more perfect or beautiful to behold here. On top of that, the interesting editing of misinterpreted sequences, seen through Briony's eyes were done superbly and offer an interesting twist to the standard story-telling formula. I have but one small reservation that may possibly annoy or irritate. The closing scenes are possibly better read on paper than seen on screen but as I have not been able to come at it from that perspective, I cannot say whether it is as effective or not. All I can say is prepare to bawl your eyes out as this is one of the most sublime and touching movies of the year and will deservedly be the first 10/10 I have awarded since April 2005.

Release Date:
7th September 2007

The Scene To Look Out For:
As with 3:10 To Yuma, everything about this film thrilled and impressed me but I must make mention of Dario Marianelli's delightful and imaginative score. I have been a fan of his style for some time, taking a particular liking to his work on V For Vendetta, and thought the inclusion of the typewriter as a musical instrument was inspired. The film is a marvel but a memorable score can invoke memories and images long after viewing.

Notable Characters:
I've never really liked Keira Knightley, I enjoyed the roles she chose but kind of felt she just portrayed extensions of herself. This film may not necessarily change that view but this effort has certainly has improved my respect for her acting abilities.

Highlighted Quote:
"How old do you have to be to tell the difference between right and wrong?"

In A Few Words:
"Sterling work; a truly moving and magnificent piece"

Total Score:

Matthew Stogdon