Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Atonement - Movie Review

Ian McEwan's story 'Atonement' deals with themes of bias, guilt, revenge, loss, love and atonement. I remember reading his 'Disgrace' and it has similar themes.

A young girl from a wealthy, manor-born English family, Briony, falsely accuses and identifies a young man Robbie, who is their housekeeper's son, of raping her cousin who is visiting. Her anger at the servant boy comes from the fact that she has had a crush on him though he is much older. Worse, she realises that her older sister Cecilia and the boy have strong feelings of attraction. Based on her testimony, a misplaced and misunderstood letter, and the victim's quiet, the boy who was all set to go to medical school, is sent to jail. From prison he joins the army and fights in the second world war. In between however Cecilia who never speaks to her family again for what they did to Robbie, and is now a nurse, meets Robbie in London and tells him that they should meet at a cottage by the sea which her friend has. Robbie carries a picture of the cottage, hoping to meet Cecilia and fulfilling their love. That picture becomes the ideal of a life he would want to live.

Meanwhile Briony realises the import of what she has done and as atonement, becomes a nurse herself and immerses herself in her work. At night, unable to sleep, she writes. Her attempts at meeting Cecilia are not fruitful. The movie moves beyond the world war and shows Briony who has become a successful novelist. 'Atonement' is her last and the 21st novel, one which is autobiographical with a happy ending where the two lovers meet. But in reality Robbie dies in war and so does Cecilia.

It's a hopelessly tragic love story that is based on the three and half minutes of passion where their desire becomes a reality. After that, prison, war and death. Interesting film. Kiera Knightley as Cecilia, James McAvoy as Robbie.

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