January 18, 2008

MOVIE: Atonement

Okay kids, it's time for me to get serious, as I review a very serious movie. So, I've read the book at my mom's recommendation and enjoyed its beautiful prose style, and its use of melodramatic love in a war time story to support its overarching theme about writers & their relationship to the universes/characters they create. I wasn't especially eager to go see the movie- I felt that there were aspects of the book that would just not translate well to film. But my parents wanted to go see it, my mom because she read the book, and my dad because he heard that the war scenes were really cool.

After having seen the movie, I have to say that it was exactly what I expected. The love & war stories translated well, the overarching theme not quite. The Rashomon bit of telling the same story multiple times through different eyes were done very effectively, and the whole thing was edited in a pleasantly tidy manner. However I could've done with a little less tidiness in the ending segment (*slight spoiler, but not really alert*) with Vanessa Redgrave. In the book, the last chapter provides such an elegant elegy to all the characters. The movie give us an ending that feels truncated and tacked on, and Redgrave's monologue spells everything out where as in the book Briony's writerly intentions are much more ambiguous.

Nonetheless, I really did enjoy the movie and I'm glad I went. It was beautiful, lush, and the war scenes were nothing short of stunning (to the absolute delight of my dad). The acting was very solid all around-Keira Knightley is really stunning and the role fits her like a glove. (Yes she is very skinny, but wow, can we stop obsessing over who's too skinny and who's too fat?) Anyhow, there's been lots of award nomination talks for Knightley, and I feel ambivalent about it. She is quite good in the role, but the character is not all that complicated. James McAvoy is pretty damn hot, and oh yeah his acting's pretty good too.