Saturday, September 22, 2007

Atonement: The Film

It's been almost an entire month since I last made an entry here... but I finally saw Atonement and I felt it necessary to add my two cents. Look for more frequent entries once I get back yo uni and get the internet connected there (about three weeks, I'm guessing).

As I said before, the novel Atonement (which, let's be honest, I only read because they were making a film out of it) was so beautiful and heartbreaking I wasn't even sure if I could sit through seeing it on-screen. But what the film left on me was a rather dull feeling of indifference: sure, it was moving, well-made, superbly acted- but it didn't make me feel as much as it should have. When it got to the portion of the film where Robbie (James McAvoy) is trudging his way across a war-strewn France, I kept thinking 'I hope they've cut it down, I hope they've cut it down'- which they had, and that didn't fit with me- it's not that I hated that part, it's that it was SO difficult to read and deal with that I didn't want to have to deal with it again. But, the problem is, Atonement NEEDS that, and it NEEDS the difficulty of Briony's (Romola Garai at this point) work as a nurse dealing with horrifically injured soldiers, because that's what makes the shattering ending work all the more. But Atonement, at this point, feels truncated, and I just felt my emotions drifting away, wishing this was the book instead, and wishing I could cry again when the ending came.

I can't be harsh on the film- all the acting (besides, surprisingly, Vanessa Redgrave- her coda doesn't work at all) is superb, particularly McAvoy and Garai. The costume and make-up work is exemplary (I loved how Redgrave looked almost exactly like Saoirse Ronan and Garai, with the same hair-cut and a dress that looked too big- as if she'd never moved past her childhood crime, which, of course, she hadn't), the direction is strong and the music beautiful. But it's not the masterpiece I so desperately wanted it to be, and that's why my words are more negative that my grade of B+ implies.