Atone­ment ( MA15+)

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

OF all the films made in 2007, Atone­ment is far and away the most haunt­ing and, to my mind, the most sat­is­fy­ing. Based on Ian McEwan’s heav­ily awarded 2001 novel of the same name ( The Ob­server de­clared it one of the best 100 nov­els writ­ten), the story be­gins in Eng­land in 1935, on the hottest day of the year. As World War II ap­proaches, imag­i­na­tive and pre­co­cious 13- year- old Bri­ony Tal­lis ( Saoirse Ro­nan), who has writ­ten and in­tends to stage her first play, lives a life of priv­i­lege with her fam­ily in their enor­mous Vic­to­rian home. There’s a dis­tinct touch of the kind of class col­li­sion we see in D. H. Lawrence’s work, as Bri­ony’s older sis­ter Ce­cilia ( Keira Knight­ley) falls pas­sion­ately for Rob­bie Turner ( James McAvoy), the house­keeper’s son. While she has tried to sup­press the at­trac­tion, it ex­plodes into phys­i­cal­ity, wit­nessed by Bri­ony, with un­for­tu­nate and pos­si­bly un­in­tended con­se­quences. Through some en­tirely cred­i­ble twists and turns, Bri­ony’s fevered imag­i­na­tion lands Rob­bie in jail. Five years later, Rob­bie is at war in Dunkirk. Bri­ony ( now played by Ro­mola Garai) is 18 and, like her older sis­ter, is nurs­ing wounded sol­diers. Her ac­tions, it seems, have kept Rob­bie and Ce­cilia achingly apart. But the fi­nal scenes, in which an el­derly Bri­ony is in­ter­viewed on a Parkin­son - style chat show, with Bri­ony now played by an as­ton­ish­ing Vanessa Red­grave, add a most un­ex­pected twist and sear like a brand­ing iron to the heart.

EX­TRAS: None

Uni­ver­sal ( 117 min­utes) $ 29.95

Ian Cuth­bert­son

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