Friday Movies: Atonement

Jonathan Player for The New York Times

A friend asked me, at lunch on Thursday, if I was keen to see Atonement, and I said that I wasn’t. And that was true — until I discovered that Atonement would be showing across the street at ten the next morning.

I liked it better than I thought I would, but I understood the critics’ reservations. (The critics I had in mind are A O Scott of the Times and Anthony Lane of The New Yorker.) I also bore in mind something that an executive producer said of the adaptation: “The one thing movies don’t do particularly well is consciousness, and the book is largely about consciousness.” The EP in question was author Ian McEwan.


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One Response to “Friday Movies: Atonement

  1. 1904 says:

    Okay, here’s a question for you, RJ [and SPOILERS ahead for those who haven’t seen the film]: in the scene where Briony goes to see her sister Cee and confess her sins, and Robbie appears in the shabby flat, threatens Briony, and is calmed by Cee — as the elder sister holds Robbie and says “look at me,” Briony looks away and out the window. In the novel, what she sees out the window is an old woman walking a fat little dachsund. In the film, what she sees is an old woman pushing a battered doll’s carriage. You see it just long enough for the strangeness and distortion of size to register, and then it’s gone.

    What does it mean? It was so strange.

    I very much liked your review. Of course, I agreed with you. It is all about the use and abuse of story-telling and memory. Everything is suspect. Which makes it such a powerful novel. A pretty film too.