Feb 09

Movie Review: Atonement

After garnering the best picture award for drama at the Golden Globe Awards this year, Atonement is the heavy favorite in the upcoming Oscar Awards this month. The movie is a the film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s bestselling novel and stars Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, and Saoirse Ronan. The film is a story of mistaken intentions, innocence, and a lie that can ruin a dream. Ronan brilliantly plays the part of Briony Tallis, a 13-year old fledgling writer with a vivid imagination. Briony’s schoolgirl crush on Robbie (McAvoy), the housekeeper’s son, leads her to mistaken conclusions on his character. As she watches the romance between Robbie and her sister Cecilia (Knightley) blossom, she mistakes Robbie’s amorous attention and advances towards her sister as sexual perversion. Her sexual naivety leads her to wrongly accuse Robbie of raping her underage cousin. She lies to authorities assuring them that it was Robbie that she witnessed doing the sinister deed when in fact it was her imagination, jealousy, envy, and innocence that led her to twist the truth.

Robbie is forced to go to war to get out of jail. From here on, the movie drags on slowly, overplaying the sufferings of Robbie. Though it never picks up from the more compelling first part, it does make up as Briony now desperately searches for atonement for a sin that ruins the dreams of her sister and a friend. She enrolls as a trainee nurse to help soldiers in the war, hoping that in some way she can find penance for her sin. Does it ever come? I enjoin you to watch the movie and find out.

More than the lost dreams of the ill-fated lovers, it is Briony’s inevitable broken life that wrenches my heart — the guilt she may never get over and the forgiveness that never came. From a lie that set all the heartaches in motion, it likewise ends with another lie that she had to come up with in hopes of redeeming herself.

How does one single lie change the destiny of lovers and ruin several lives? And when a life is ruined, will there ever really be atonement for the sinner? I think not. We can only hope for forgiveness from those we have wronged. And if this is not possible. The last recourse is to forgive ourselves.

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