Dave White
Atonement Review

Dave's Rating:

4.0

You win again, fancy British people.

Who's in It: Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Brenda Blethyn, Saoirse Ronan, Vanessa Redgrave

The Basics: A precocious but unsophisticated child sees some adult behavior under weird circumstances, immediately assumes the worst, then takes her perceptions and runs with them, spinning everything into a huge lie that sets in motion a series of events that bring misery to everyone involved. And see? I used the word assume. Everyone except kids knows that when you assume, you make an ass of both "u" and "me." Which is why you should steer clear of kids unless you're their parents and you're stuck with them.

What's the Deal? No spoilers here, but this movie has some secrets. And the movie takes its time letting them unfold. While watching it, I didn't feel like I'd been had, but afterward I sort of did. And now I can't decide if I just want to let the film get away with having a big super-reveal secret because it earns its right to have one, or if it's because it's about fancy British people, and I'm a cheap date for movies like that (with their huge country estates). I really do hate the whole "gotcha!" plot twist unless it's The Sixth Sense or The Crying Game. Oh, I don't know … OK, yeah, I still liked it. You win again, fancy British people.

Who Should See It: They'll be selling this to adults, obviously, because it's got some very explicit discussion of sex in the first 30 minutes, but given that it's about the trouble that dumb kids can cause — like The Children's Hour but dirtier — you should probably take your middle-school-age children to see it. Why not give them their first R-rated movie for the holidays? They'll love you for that. Of course, they'll want to see Hostel Part 3 next.

Who Loves Keira: Director Joe Wright, obviously. He also directed her in Pride and Prejudice and points his camera at her like he wants to marry her (in spite of the fact that he's actually engaged to Pride and Prejudice co-star Rosamund Pike).

What's the Record for Least Number of Minutes of Screen Time Spent Earning an Oscar Nomination? Redgrave spends fewer than five minutes onscreen sitting in a chair, and she mops the floor with every single other actor in this movie. And none of it would have worked without her presence.

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