Monday, May 2, 2011

Movie of the Week - Atonement

This week’s movie is Atonement (2007).

The romance drama is about Robbie Turner, a man whose mother works for a rich family in England, Cecilia Tallis, the eldest daughter of the rich family who Robbie falls in love with, and Briony Tallis, her younger sister who does not understand their relationship, and a lie that devastates their lives (based on Ian McEwan’s novel). The film is split into three parts – part one takes place at the family’s home in 1935, while parts 2 and 3 take place during the early days of WWII (1940). Director Joe Wright does a wonderful job with the film, as the narrative jumps around in time yet is still very coherent. Of his four films, this one has more of a poetic tone and visual composition to it. The narrative exists more so on the feelings the audience gets from the visuals and performances than the dialog. Aesthetically, the film is marvelous as well. Composer Dario Marianelli does excellent work on the film (winning an Oscar), while cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (there are a few long takes that are great – specifically one on the beach at Dunkirk, France involving soldiers waiting to be evacuated that is a story onto itself), production designer Sarah Greenwood, and costume designer Jacqueline Durran (whose green dress that Knightley's character wears, is considered the best dress in film history) provide a beautiful visual experience (all in all, the film was nominated for seven Oscars, winning one for its score, but won the BAFTA for Best Film). The cast is also magnificent, highlighted by its principal actors: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Romola Garai, and Saoirse Ronan. There are also good smaller supporting performances from Juno Temple, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Vanessa Redgrave. What makes the film great is its overall aesthetic style, which mixed with the very good performances throughout creates a beautiful yet tragic love story. It is a must for fans of exquisite cinematography, directing and film scoring, as well as those that enjoy heartbreaking romances. Check out the trailer.

Available on Blu-ray, DVD and to Rent

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