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Atonement Review Critics


Dave White Profile

You win again, fancy British people. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    This is one of the year's best films, a certain best picture nominee.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    A singular achievement -- romantic, sensuous, intelligent and finally shattering in its sweep and thematic complexity.

    Read Full Review

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The movie version feels like a stately, but watered down, episode of "Masterpiece Theatre" fused with "The English Patient."

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    In the end -- an ending of such power and narrative originality (in both book and movie) that those who know it ought never breathe a word to those who don't.

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  • 90

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Ray Bennett

    With compelling and charismatic performances by Keira Knightley and James McAvoy as the lovers, and a stunning contribution from Romola Garai as their remorseful nemesis, the film goes directly to "The English Patient" territory and might also expect rapturous audiences and major awards.

    Read Full Review

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 15+

Stellar literary adaptation too mature for kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this adaptation of Ian McEwan's best-selling novel set in pre-WW II England deals with themes -- including adolescent immaturity, class differences, lying, and passion -- that are too complex for all but the most mature teens to really be able to grasp and put in context. There are a couple of sexual situations, and the extended scene of the evacuation from Dunkirk is bloody and disturbing. A particular "bad" word ("c--t"), used out of desire instead of anger, is shown in typeface several times throughout the film. Other language includes "s--t" and "f--k"; there's also social drinking and period-accurate smoking.

  • Families can talk about the impact of Briony's lie. What misconceptions led her to think she saw Robbie committing a crime? What does the story convey about the power of words and the flexibility of truth? Older teens who are precocious readers may want to read the novel and discuss whether the film is an accurate, adequate adaptation.

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: A young adolescent's distortion of the truth leads to devastating, irreversible results. A grown woman tries to "atone" for her past wrongdoing.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: The war-related scenes in France and at Dunkirk are disturbing: soldiers shooting their horses, a field full of dead schoolgirls, amputees, bloody soldiers, etc. There's a graphic scene of a patient's head injury at a London hospital, as well as many bloody men. Another scene shows dying and dead men, as well as a group of Londoners about to perish.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Cecilia and Robbie share a few passionate kisses and an intimate lovemaking scene, but there's no nudity -- just quick shots of sleeves slipping off of shoulders and tuxedo pants opening, etc.

  • language false3

    Language: "C--t" (aka "the most horrible word you've ever heard") is shown typewritten, several times. Other words include "bastard," "f--k," "s--t," and more.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Like any upper-crust English family, the Tallises drink cocktails, wine, and champagne at a dinner party. During the Dunkirk scene, soldiers are shown drinking in a makeshift pub, while one character tries in vain to get a drink. Men and women smoke cigarettes, as was the style in the '30s and '40s.