Saturday, September 5, 2009

Atonement (2007)

Sorry for the lack of updates, I've been busy with school and some dog issues.

But anyway, I'm back (Hopefully), and I think I'll start with a film I recently watched, and it's also a film that I disagree with the majority when it comes to this film.

As some of you may know, Atonement was nominated for a slew of Oscars, including Best Picture, and it tells the story of Cecilia and Robbie, two young adults who fall in love. Robbie is the son of Cecilia's family housekeeper and is attending the same college as Cecilia (on Cecilia's father's dime). Their romance is cut short, however when Cecilia's younger, would-be-writer sister Briony (Saoirse Ronan, then later Romola Garai, and then Vanessa Redgrave) accuses Robbie of a crime he did not commit, sending him to prison, and later into World War II.

The film itself is beautifully made, with great costumes, and sets and cinematography, but the plot falls flat. Not because it is poorly written or not well-acted (in fact, the cast is universally good), it's that the romance between the two characters is so rushed that I never bought into it and the tragedy of the film was lost. Maybe I have an issue when it comes to romances, but when it comes to "Here are two characters, now care about their relationship" type scenarios, I usually find myself indifferent. The film is still easy to watch, and it's not offensively bad, but it's a bit of an empty spectacle. It's well-crafted but lacks any real emotional connection to the main plot of the film.

As I said, the cast is great, with special mention for Saoirse Ronan for her portrayal of Briony. She creates an intelligent 13 year old girl who is a master of observation. She uses it to fuel her writings about love and romance as well as take in the wealthy, well-to-do goings on around her. And in the same instance, I must mention Vanessa Redgrave who plays an elderly Briony. She's only on screen for a few minutes, but those minutes pack more of an emotional punch than the rest of the film. Her Briony is a lonely, regretful woman, broken by her past sin of lying about Robbie and she totally breaks your heart in a matter of minutes sinply using her voice and subtle face movements. It's breathtaking and heartbreaking.

I don't really find much else to say about Atonement. I can't rightly say to avoid the film, because if you were to buy into the main romance, it's sure to be a pleasant viewing. But it can be a bit hard to finish if you find yourself ambivalent to the matter of whether or not these two crazy kids are going to get back together.

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