Saturday, December 8, 2007

Artistic and Compelling: Atonement

Directed by Joe Wright
Released September 7, 2007

If there is one thing I can say with absolute conviction about this film, is that it is stunning to look at and listen to. The scenery is beautiful, and the score is fantastic. The actors and the plot are not bad either. James McAvoy and Keira Knightley have limited roles which are no better or wose than any other role either of them have had, but they put in a decent effort. Saoirse Ronan is the actress who really deserves commendation here, in one of her first film roles. She more than holds her own alongside a more experienced cast and delivers a performance far beyond her age. The script really gets into the time period, and I cannot say how faithful it is to the book, having opted for the film over the book in this case. The story does not tread for too long, but it does feel like there might be a piece missing from the middle. It is certainly a pleasurable experience and a well-invested drama that deserves a good deal of praise, which I am sure it will get.


Oscar chances: This might sound impulsive, but I now consider "Atonement" a lock for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Ronan), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costumes, and Best Original Score. That sounds like a lot, but it excels in each of the latter seven areas, and is sure to get enough positive buzz to earn a rank in the Best Picture lineup. McAvoy and Knightley face the problem of limited screentime despite main roles, and I think they might easily get left off in favor of more showy performers (Daniel Day-Lewis, for instance) and those with many roles this year (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Romola Garai could have a shot as the older version of Ronan's character, but the younger actress will eclipse most of the buzz. Vanessa Redgrave should absolutely not get in - the words "nothing special" are especially applicable here. Not to mention the fact that she appears in the film for a grand total of like TWO MINUTES. Please, Oscar voters, do not reward previously respected actresses who take five minutes to film a glorified bit part and do not excel at it. All in all, though, watch out for this one as the one that could beat "No Country for Old Men".

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