Saturday, May 9, 2015


Atonement (2007)
     To say that this was a ‘good movie’ would be something of an understatement. Atonement is a story of a thirteen year old girl, aching to understand the world around her and the two people she loves dearly pay the price of her ignorance as well as their own illicit passions. 

     In 1935, London, aspiring author, Briony  Tallis, witnesses a series of of adult interactions between her older sister Cecelia and and Robbie Turner, a family servant. Cecelia and Robbie grew up as children and attended Cambridge (Robbie's tuition was paid for by Cecelia's father), but both have harbored feelings for one another for many years. Then one summer day, all their pent up feelings come rolling out like a heatwave and innocent naive Briony finds herself trapped in the middle of the love affair. 

     When Briony then accuses Robbie of raping her cousin Lola, he is arrested and sent to prison for four years, until he is released to serve in the army when Britain enters the second world war. Cecelia and Briony are both nurses, but Cecelia, who never doubted Robbie's innocence, has had no contact with her sister since Robbie was arrested. Briony, herself, has been conflicted with emotional doubt since that day in 1935 and how her insolent behavior caused both her sister and Robbie to lose what happiness they might have had. 

Briony Tallis POV

  • Robbie and Cecelia are fighting in front of the fountain. Cecelia moves toward Robbie, but he stops her. Cecelia then strips in front of Robbie and jumps into the fountain. 
  • Reading an inappropriate letter that Robbie had written to Cecelia.
  • Robbie on top of Cecelia in the library. 
  • Someone on top of Lola in the creek. 
     All these events could make any young girl think that Robbie is a perverted sex maniac. Briony’s sheltered world comes collapsing down around her when she sees the young boy she’s always admired seeming to take advantage of her beloved older sister. True she made judgments without asking her sister for an explanation, but would Cecelia really have given her sister an explanation if she had asked? Probably not. Briony truly loved her sister and thought she was doing what was best for her.

Actual Events

  • Robbie and Cecelia had been fighting over a vase, which broke and fell into the fountain. Cecelia, in a rage toward Robbie, stripped in front of him and dove in the well to get a missing piece. 
  • Robbie was trying to write an apology to Cecelia for their fight and was lacking inspiration. For fun, he wrote down a sexual fantasy and then wrote a more appropriate apology. Before he left for the family dinner he was invited to, he accidentally took the sex fantasy letter instead of the apology and gave it to Briony to give to Cecelia. By the time Robbie realized his mistake, Briony had read the letter. 
  • After reading the letter and talking to her cousin, Briony believes Robbie to be a sex maniac. 
  • Robbie and Cecelia with years of pent-up desires for each other, make love in the library. Briony walks in on them. Both leave without saying a word to her. 
  • Briony already thinking that Robbie is a sex maniac and then witnessing him and her sister in the library (believing the Robbie is attacking her) confirms her beliefs that Robbie could be responsible for raping Lola at the creek beds. 

     Cecelia and Robbie’s fiery emotions get in the way of their reasoning and believe that 13 year Briony will keep her mouth shout or just simply not understand. Their whole relationship has been nothing but “maybes.” Maybe Cecelia should have had more decency and not strip in front of Robbie and maybe Robbie should have ripped up his letter. And you shouldn't be making love in the library (of all the rooms in the castle and you choose the library??).

     No parties are completely innocent nor are they completely guilty. All gets lost in transition in the heat of the moment and the awakening of the senses. Yes, Briony should have minded her own business and let Cecelia and Robbie deal with their issues. However, I don’t believe the Briony was a malicious girl with cruel intentions toward Robbie, but what she witnessed at the fountain, in the letter and in the library all seemed to add up. Briony may have been in love with Robbie, but she didn't accuse him of inappropriate behavior because he was in love with Cecelia; she thought she was trying to protect her sister. 

     In the end, it's revealed that Briony knew all along that Robbie had been innocent and that the rape was carried out be another man. Only by the time she admits the truth, it's to late and now all she has left are her memories of that summer day and her writing to truly atone for her mistakes and give her sister and Robbie that happiness they deserve. 

     Beautiful and is really the only way you can describe this story!!! The film itself was shot in a very reminiscent, dreamlike quality that made you believe that you were entering someone's mind and sharing their personal thoughts. And of course the acting was unbelievable! 

     In the story Cecelia Tallis is somewhat of a boring and shallow character that's use to getting what she wants and never having to fight for anything. Robbie Turner is a hard worker with ambitions of becoming a doctor. They both come from two different social divides in England and even in the 1930s, crossing that divide was difficult.

     Both Kiera Knightley and James McAvoy were brilliants in their roles as the fiery doomed lovers who through separation and war grew more in love one another Birony Tallis is played by two actresses, Saoirse Ronan at 13 and Romola Garai at 18. Not only did both actresses look like, but they were able to convey the complexities of Briony's evolving character, from a little girl that's innocent of the world to a young woman caught in her own personal world war.

     In spite of the sexual content (which is the whole crux of the story; so you can't really leave it out), the movie was perfect description of a coming-of-age for all three characters involved. It deals with the wars you fight in life and in yourself, of guilt that comes from ignorance and redemption that comes from honesty.


  1. I want to watch this now. So, great post! :D


    1. Thank you! I hadn't planned on writing a review, but the storyline was so compelling that I knew it would make a great review.


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