Atonement is a semi-nonlinear period piece taking place in England during WWII. It’s about a man named Robbie (James McAvoy) who falls in love with a girl named Cecilia (Keira Knightly). Instead of this ending happily ever after, Robbie is arrested because Cecilia’s kid sister’s, Briony (Saoirse Ronan), friend is attacked and she thinks she saw Robbie do it. He’s allowed out of prison if he’s willing to fight in the war. Robbie is hoping to survive to the end so that he and Cecilia can finally be together.
This movie does a cool thing with a few separate scenes where it shows what Liony sees, before showing us the scene immediately before it with the other characters involved. This is a really cool idea, and I don’t think any other movies that do this in quite the same way. I like how it’s edited and I think that these sequences make for a very interesting viewing experience. I wish it did more of these throughout the movie though I can’t really think of where they would have added it.
I liked the story. It does a really good job of demonstrating what it means to strive for atonement and how the consequences of one event could change everything in your life and the lives of your friends and family. Briony makes a mistake that ends up screwing up everyone else’s lives when she’s only 13, this creates a divide between her and her sister and changes both of their lives forever. Can they make amends? Can Briony truly atone for what she’s done?
I don’t really have complaints about this movie, some of it was slow but that’s fine as it required a slow pace during those parts of the movie. I wouldn’t call this movie perfect though as a perfect movie I think has a lot of rewatchability, this movie has some but I don’t think there’s much to be gained from watching this movie multiple times.
Why you should watch it before you die: Aside from the philosophical questions this movie asks about its subject, this movie is a well-acted, period drama with a great story. I would highly recommend this to anyone who’s adult enough to understand the concepts.
+8: Great drama and period piece with high concepts
+1: Terrific acting
+1: some pretty cool non-linear perspective sequences that more movies should do in general, great editing outside of these sequences as well