PLEASE NOTE: The following includes spoilers about the movie.
First of all Atonement (2007) sounds pretty blah. And if you see the poster/dvd-cover it most likely won't change that idea. However we've been totally jamesmcavoyed. That's for sure. And after seeing quite awesome Hanna (2011) we got the idea we should see other stuff directed by Joe Wright.
So we watched the movie, as dull as we thought it might be. Like Hanna, it's beautiful from the start. Beautiful settings, beautiful angles, beautiful long shots. Beautiful sounds and music.
Besides being pretty Atonement is fantastic storytelling. The first moment the linearity of the plot had a subtle twist, I was really into it.
Wright is great at putting everything to their rightful places. Flashbacks, even the small ones, feel necessary. The motives of people are understandable.
The fountain scene at the beginning is brilliant: First is shown how Briony sees the events from her colored, imaginative and somewhat jealous point of view. It seems weird, it seems suspicious.
Then, a moment later is shown what really happened. Still from an outside perspective, but this time much closer. Now we see all the details and hear what's said. It's easy to see how it looked suspicious from Briony's window and it's ridiculous how innocent it all actually is.
I must say I wasn't very thrilled about the ending of Atonement. Who would be. The ending is awful. So awful I burst into hysterical cry and couldn't stop sobbing for a while. Of course a happy ending would have been sappy and most likely spoiled the whole thing.
Don't take me wrong: It wasn't awful as badly done. It was awful because it was so sad. I blame Ian McEwan for writing such a gloomy book.