...engaging and discerning culture, as a way of life...

January 15, 2008

Atonement - 7

It would be easy to get taken in by the costumes and sets and assume that this is a historical epic love story set during WWII. Based on Ian McEwan's novel, this story is much more intriguing and reflective- playing with the assumptions of the genre. The ending of the film (which I won't spoil) was almost as mind-blowing as Fight Club. The story seems simple enough- young Briony (Saoirse Ronan) sees her older sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and what seems like an odd relationship to Robbie (James McAvoy), who has been taken in by the Tallis family and given an education- giving him some social mobility. Of course perception is not absolutely objective and each person has their story of the events and the "truth" about what is happening. The consequences are devastating and the film shows both the harsh reality of this, as well as the guilt and sought after atonement that starts to drive and motivate Briony. During the middle of the film I was beginning to feel as though the story had gotten side-tracked, but the final moments of this film drew it all together in a thought provoking way. I walked away loving this film and the conversation it helps initiate. The film is not only an intriguing story but asks question about how to tell a story, the truth of stories, and why it is that humans need, long, and do tell stories about the world and their experience in it. A good companion essay to this film is Tim O'Brien's How to Tell a True War Story (Full-Text). Worthy of its Golden Globe for Best Picture and a serious Oscar contender.

No comments: