Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Atonement- the film

This is a wonderful film. One is transported to the hot summer of 1935. when I remember the girls wearing flimsy dresses of georgette and pure silk – before nylon reared its ugly head- the bright red lipstick and nail varnish and Marcel waves. I remember the chaps in flannels, open- necked shirts with brilliantined hair – blissfully unaware of the hell in store for them.

The film opens in the nursery of a mansion and the eye is entranced by the minutia as the camera travel upstairs and down stairs whilst we discover a world that no longer exists, where the children had more intimacy with the kitchen staff than their parents and where cigarettes, were ever present whether they were humble Woodbines f or the plebs or Balkan Sobranies for the toffs.

The story is absorbing, with many twists and turns. I don’t intend to give anything away but a couple near us started to exit at what seemed to be the end and then returned to their seat - it isn’t over until the credits appear. I had read about the wonderful tracking shot showing the total devastation at Dunkirk but particularly remember the reflection of bombers on a dyke, the poppy fields and the bizarre sight of a Ferris wheel going round and round. So many unforgettable images both lyrical and horrifying.

The acting is exemplary with Keira Knightley conveying the froideur and passion of her character with her beautiful face and angular body and James McAvoy perfect as the hero. There is a scene in a café where the lovers seem so stilted it’s almost ludicrous – not helped by all the parodies there have been of that era. But in fact we were that stilted then - especially when taking tea in a formal café.

The film, which is very emotional and moving, is enhanced by the music and there is one moment when the background music blends in with Debussy – very redolent of the times. If I could see it again tomorrow I would. You lucky people who have it to come. What no criticism? There is quite a lot of a clacking typewriter and the young sister tends to stomp. What is all this stomping? I noticed it with Helen Mirren playing the Queen and here there is even a band of nurses stomping down the corridor. Otherwise it’s perfect Take Kleenex.

PS Vanessa Redgrave has a small but telling part IMO the best thing she has ever done.


Nea said...

I hope they show it here. Otherwise I'll have to wait for the DVD, and after your tantalizing review I can't.

PI said...

nea: I think it would be a world wide release; I can't think they would leave out Sweden. To get a taste google it- there is a lovely trailer with music.

R. Sherman said...

Wonderful. This sounds like something the EMBLOS will drag me to. I need to remember to hide a beer or two in my jacket.

Any barroom brawls or gunfights?

Ms. Knightley is lovely though. Perhaps there's gratuitous nudity.



PI said...

Randall: If you want to get lots of brownie points - suggest it to EMBLOS. You won't be disappointed - there's WW2 and Keira in the (almost) together:)

apprentice said...

I found the Knightley character in the book hard going too. I was one of my least favourite McEwan books for that reason.

The photography sounds wonderful though so I look forward to catching it.

john.g. said...

Thanks Mum2, you just saved me £6.00!

PI said...

Anna: I'll be very interested in what you think of it.

PI said...

John: if that means what I think it means - I suppose it is more a woman's film . Deep sigh!