Directed by Joe Wright and based on Ian McEwan‘s 2001 novel of the same name, Atonement is set in 1935 where 13-year-old aspiring writer Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) and her family live a life of wealth and privilege in their enormous mansion. On the warmest day of the year, Briony’s imagination is running wild when she witnesses her sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and the educated son of the family’s housekeeper, Robbie (James McAvoy) doing something she doesn’t yet understand. Accusing Robbie of a crime he did not commit, he is arrested and sent to war, an event that changes all of their lives forever.
My all-time favourite war-time romantic drama; this film has such class! Keira Knightley and James McAvoy make brilliant leads and have such a lovely chemistry on screen together. The film also sees great performances by Saoirse Ronan and Juno Temple, who were largely unknown at the point of this film’s release but who are now both doing exceedingly well. And let’s not forget Benedict Cumberbatch’s creepy presence. When first watching this I had no idea that it was him, and it’s only recently that I’ve made the connection, so kudos to him for taking on such a role.
“Come back to me.”
As well as these strong performances, the film has constantly beautiful cinematography, a haunting but brilliant score, and one of the saddest endings I have ever seen. The story is truly heartbreaking, and whilst there’s a whole hour in the middle of the film that is unnecessary in terms of plot, everything about it is just so pretty.