In 1935 England, 13-year-old Briony (Ronan) sees her sister Cecilia (Knightley) and their cook's son Robbie (McAvoy) together (literally) and, out of jealousy, accuses Robbie of a crime he didn't commit. The once beloved Robbie is sent to jail and the family, who had been paying for him to attend college, rejects him. Only Cecilia believes he is innocent, and cannot forgive her sister. Five years later, the now grown Briony (Garai) and Cecilia are nurses in London and Robbie has been released from prison to fight in the war. Desperate for forgiveness for ruining Robbie's life, Briony tries to find a way to fix her mistake, but it may be too late. Knightley and McAvoy shine as the long-lost lovers, and Ronan's Briony is stellar. Beautifully shot period film is faithful to McEwan's novel, and to the tone and style of 1930s and '40s-era melodramas.
Beautifully shot and told tale - at once painful to watch and compelling. Very self conscious about the film's interaction with the audience - whether it is the simple use of the typewriter to re-enforce the fact that the written word is the key plot mover in this story to the (over)gorgeous cinematography to represent the Hieronymus Bosch hellhole of Dunkirk. Subtext of war and class, of future and present adds tension and poignancy as movie wears on. The middle section of the movies seems as it were over edited - and ironically by trying to shorten the movie, it causes the story to lose a level of tautness as we struggle to put the pieces together. But highly recommended - but more for a though provoking evening - not a first date.
James McAvoy rocks! sonya72 at 2008-03-19 15:50:42
James McAvoy gives an excellent performance. He is truly one of the best actors around! Kiera Knightly is tolerable. The green dress she wears in the library scene stands out more than she does throughout the entire movie!