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From the Past

Films on the to-do list

  • Armageddon Time
  • Black Widow
  • Chimes at Midnight
  • The Killing of a Sacred Deer
  • Last Christmas
  • Remember Sunday
  • Shazam! 2
  • Thor: Love and Thunder
  • Spy Guys

Atonement (2007)

Film review: Atonement (2007), directed by Joe Wright

It’s perhaps surprising that I’ve managed to go four years without having seen this film, but it was on the other night, so recorded it and finally managed to watch it.

It’s a story about a young girl, Briony (Saoirse Ronan), who enjoys writing and making things up. Because she manages to completely misinterpret her older sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and her loved one Robbie (James McAvoy) and their relationship, she firmly believes that Robbie is sex mad, and when her cousin gets raped, she believes she saw him … and her testimony is enough to land the poor, innocent lad in prison.

Four years later, in 1939, war breaks out in Europe and as Robbie had the choice of remaining in prison or enlisting as a soldier, he finds himself in France, trying to get back home. Meanwhile, the two sisters have become nurses in London. Briony (now Romola Garai) has had the past few years to realise what she did – putting the wrong man in jail – and wants to make amends: atone her sins, as it were.

And then there’s a twist worthy of M Night Shyamalan on a good day (before The Last Airbender). Ah-haaah, no, I didn’t quite expect it to end that way. Well played!

Atonement is based on a book by Ian McEwan and has been nominated and won numerous awards. I’m not sure I think it’s quite the best film I have ever seen, but it’s very good. Good performances all around, but particularly from Saoirse Ronan. Her career’s the one to watch! Romola Garai (feels like she’s been a theme recently, although I’ve just been watching The Crimson Petal and the White, and two does not make a theme) is fab as usual. Benedict Cumberbatch, now of Sherlock fame, is horrid. I don’t mean his acting abilities, I mean his creeptastic character. How old was the girl he was flirting with? Not old enough for an adult to be hitting on, that’s for sure! Eww, it’s just wrong.

It’s enjoyable as a film, albeit a bit depressing. If you can say that, because there’s not much to be enjoyed. It’s a bit dark and people are terribly wounded and people die and a man gets punished for a crime he didn’t commit while the real rapist gets away. On the plus side, they do dress up in period clothing. And that’s never wrong. Oh, and they speak French sometimes too. Good thing it was subtitled.

4 out of 5 nurses.


An easily distracted and over-excited introvert who never learns to go to bed at a reasonable time. Enjoys traveling (when there's not a plague on), and taking photos of European architecture. Cares for cats, good coffee and Boardwalk Empire. A child of her time, she did media studies in school and still can't decide what she wants to be when she grows up.

3 thoughts on “Atonement (2007)

  1. I need to rewatch this – I listen to the soundtrack more. 🙂 The Dunkirk scene KILLS me, it’s so well done IMO. Not a happy movie, I agree, but thought-provoking.

  2. You are quite right – the ending was particularly thought-provoking. Don’t want to mention what it is, just because I don’t want to spoil it for people who have yet to see the movie. Thanks for your comment, Ruth! 🙂

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