View Full Version : Atonement

09-05-2009, 06:31 AM
I've just finished watching "Atonement". I realize I'm about 18 months behind the curve on this one, but I wanted to see if others here have seen it and what they thought.

For myself, it was sad, strange, and hauntingly beautiful. And I do simply adore Keira Knightley. Really wasn't expecting the ending either... caught me off guard a bit.

What did you think?

09-05-2009, 09:21 PM
Oooh... Sorry I gotta go the complete opposite direction. I did NOT like this movie! There's some beautiful cinematography. I like the period...

That's about as far as I go! The rest is brutality from me. this movie belongs to a subgenre of dramatic film. Tear-jerker period novel adaptations from contemporary authors, or as I like to call them "oscar bait". I didn't like The English Patient either, and these movies belong very much in the same category - I love the period, there are scenes here and there which I enjoy, but otherwise I just do NOT eat what these movies are trying to feed me.

What I seem to recall really hating about this one is its lack of conviction until you reach the "revelation" or "twist", or whatever you call it - and it's so late in the movie that it's TOO late for me to decide on a protagonist. Until then, I'm thinking "WHO'S STORY IS THIS?? Who is the main character?!" I didn't care about ANY of them, so having to decide on one myself, without the movie bothering, was a step I didn't care to take - and then toward the end you learn that it's Saoirse Ronan's character, it's her story all along. *shrug* And again, my response was "too little, too late, movie. Good try. Movie."

Not that a movie necessarily needs a single protagonist. Pulp Fiction gets along just fine without one. But Atonement, I feel, shot itself in the foot.

I didn't like the huge steadicam shot too. There's like a 4 minute shot or something like that in this movie with the soldier character wandering around a base being set up near an old fair in France. That's pretty much it, he just wanders around for a while. The light is beautiful, but I thought the shot was just overindulgent and wasteful. It wasn't scripted or planned - The scene wasn't working as written, and the director and cinemtographer had to think quick. They decided to scrap it and replace it with this huge steadicam shot, which took a couple of days to get. Which is pretty cool actually, but perhaps that's exactly a reason why nothing at all really happens in this shot. I won't deny it looks beautiful - this whole movie looks amazing. But I part company with it pretty early on.

EDIT: One scene I had a really good laugh in, as re-enacted by Brandon Hardesty:

YouTube - Reenactment #29: Atonement (as seen on Jimmy Kimmel)

09-06-2009, 12:01 AM
Aah - lol... that reenactment is gold! Thanks.

I was wondering if you might chime in on this. I always enjoy hearing the view point of a professional, or even avocational person in the "industry". It often seems to vary widely from my own and/or the general public's. Is it because I(/we) are simply uneducated, or do you just know too much about the biz. Rather like hot-dogs (wieners)... if you really love to eat them, it may be better for you if you don't know what they contain or how they're processed.

For what it's worth, I absolutely loved Inglourious Basterds as well. And I saw it after I read your opinions of it on another thread here at LBPC.

I guess perhaps I'm just a simpleton... one of the sheep that Hollywood is feeding. But I know what I like. And when I come out of a comedy with a smile on my face, or wipe a tear back during a drama, or find myself still trying to shake a particular image days later, then I feel I've been more than recompensed for my admission. I also know what I hate (and having teenage boys in my house, believe me I've seen it).

But I still really appreciate your point of view. As for the "steadicam" (?) shot, I thought it lent itself well to the delirium the character was experiencing as result of his illness. It did work for me. The one point that I will agree with you on though is that there was not a clear protagonist.

Thanks for sharing!! :)

09-06-2009, 05:19 AM
Actually, definitely don't think that my opinions remotely represent anything like the viewpoint of industry professionals! I don't think my knowledge of filmmaking informs too much of my opinion on movies, particularly movies like this - very polished, high production value, very earnest, serious dramas. I hate to admit that my tastes often tend to intersect with a lot of film school snobbery. But I'll also be the first to admit that I think Big Trouble in Little China is one of the best movies of the 80s.

I think Atonement was so serious in fact, so deeply earnest, that I had a bit of trouble caring. It's hard to endear characters to an audience when they're so **** serious all the time.

I'm getting way off topic here, but people often think of Charles Dickens as classy, serious, high-brow stuff. But then you read it and discover he uses a great deal of wit and is often hilarious. Even in his really serious books he writes with a great deal of humor. For some reason this tends to get lost in the tone of a lot of "classy high-brow" movies. It's been a while since I've seen Atonement, but I remember feeling like it could use a bit more character, a bit more charm. A bit more Dickens I guess?