Wednesday, July 02, 2008

"joined by love, separated by fear, redeemed by hope"

I will be starting classes next Monday. Like everyone else, I hate to go back. It is just such a stressful environment. Here are my new resolutions: 1) Study hard and 2) Save money.

Oh well, all good things must come to an end.


"Come back. Come back to me." - Cecilia Tallis
So yesterday I wanted to go look for a book at Leisure Mall but instead I found this:

Yes, I never found the book I wanted. So I thought, what the heck? Might as well buy something since I drove all the way here.

And I did. I bought "Atonement" the vcd at Speedy, the shop that charges an exorbitant amount of money for its merchandise. Okay, missing the point here.

Anyway, this movie caught my interest mainly because, well yeah, James McAvoy is in it. I really like him a lot in "Wanted" and I have heard nothing but great reviews about this movie, particularly the fact that it was nominated for several Oscars.

So the Oscars people cannot be wrong right? Although they are not necessarily right either.

First look at the cover and the movie trailer (on the internet) and I became sceptical about it. To me, it looks like one of those sappy love story that transcends borders and in this case, transcends the severity of World War II. Another one of those tragic melodrama, where the director is trying to prove that the power of love is so strong and of course, as in every war-themed drama, death is inevitable, and tears from the audience as well.

Well, I was only partially right.

My early assumptions was probably due to the fact that I did not really understood the word Atonement so I looked it up in the dictionary:

"Atonement n. atoning; making amends for wrong;"

Now I finally understand.

I wasn't particularly optimistic as I started playing the vcd on my laptop because this is not the kind of genre of movie I normally would go for. However, I was excited to see my James McAvoy. I was thinking, lucky this movie has James in it. Otherwise, I would not even bother taking it off the racks.

The story is simple enough, played out mainly in two parts. The movie is basically focused more on 13-year-old Briony Tallis, who is a talented writer but has a rather fanciful and imaginative mind. She sees things going on between her sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and Robbie Turner (James) and draws her own conclusions.

The first part portrays the lives of the rich Tallis family members and Robbie, a housekeeper's son who goes through Cambridge thanks to the generosity of the Tallis'. In the beginning, we can see how Robbie and Cecilia are attracted to one another, but somehow something seems to be obstructing them.

I did not quite understand, and when I watched some of the interviews on the net, I found out that Robbie and Cecilia were in fact, secretly in love with one another for five years, but drawn apart because of their status.

I guess one need to read the book (from which this movie is adapted: Atonement by Ian McEwan) to fully grasp the feel of the movie.

Their mutual attraction finally peaked when a misunderstanding concerning a letter arised. And caught in the middle of this is little Briony, whom we later find out that she too, has feelings for Robbie. But Robbie only has eyes for her sister, Cecilia.

And on that same night, a rape happened to one of Briony's cousins. We never really know if Briony did witness the culprit but all we know is she falsely accused Robbie as the rapist, which I assumed is because of the love triangle between herself, him and her sister.

So Briony lied and Robbie's world took a 180 degrees turn.

Poor Robbie. A young man, filled with goodness and heart, about to venture into medical school, with a loving mother and the woman he loved, now goes to prison for something he did not commit.

The movie follows a non-chronological order, which works well as later we find out that it is based on Briony's memory. But it also make paid extra attention just so I can fully understand the movie.

Then the second part comes. Given the option of joining the army or staying imprisoned, young Robbie goes to war in France. Cecilia and himself were reunited in London, with her being a nurse and leaving her family behind, the family that she hated for pulling her apart from her lover.

There was also young Briony, all grown up now, also a nurse and she regrets the lie that she told, fully grasping the consequences of what she had done and the lives she had destroyed.

So she tries to make amends with Robbie and Cecilia, the lovers who struggle to be together despite the distance and war conditions.

After watching the movie, I was very much impressed. It was simple, with amazing cinematography, especially the one depicting the evacuating soldiers on the beach.

The story is just about how one lie can drastically change the course of events, how it can greatly affect the life of the person involved in the lie and those around him. It is also about forgiveness, how we seek for it and about regret and guilt and also, how it is all just too late.

In the beginning, I was very much in contempt with Briony's actions. How she testify against Robbie and framed him, even providing the letter to prove her accusations. I was annoyed at how she could do such a thing, especially towards a man she had probably known her whole life.

As the movie progresses and I learn about how she fancies Robbie all this while, I felt pity for her instead. Here was a young girl, not knowing anything about sexual attraction and witnessing things that she probably did not understand. She likes him but obviously, he is madly in love with his sister. Maybe in her naive mind, she thought that if she cannot have him, then darn well her sister would not have him either.

I really liked the first part of the movie, the things that happened before the huge rape event. The second part seems to me a bit slow and sometimes, not as interesting as I would like it to be. Maybe the idea of war and all, seems to me, to be a little lacklustre in terms of excitement.

And I must simply applaud James McAvoy in his brilliant role. This guy does not need any script or speak any lines. Just the look on his face and his eyes tell the whole story. This man is a real genius and I think, he is what actually made this movie as wonderful as it is.

Of course, Keira is amazing as usual. I also read that the actress who played the young Briony was even nominated for an Oscar.

So...I think that pretty much conclude my review for a movie which is really old news. Well, I am no movie buff ok and I missed out on a lot of great movies.

But seriously, if you have the chance to watch Atonement, pls do. It is a small film which leaves a huge impact.

And it teaches you not to lie, very important lesson there.

And, damn those British accents. They get to me every single time. Can any accent sound hotter than those English's?

For the record, I absolutely lurve this gorgeous-dress-that-I-will-never-be-able-to-afford-in-my-entire-life:


monster paperbag said...

James is good in the movie Wanted, too :).

FIFIONA said...

any movie is great with james yummy in



(unless you ask ms blogger first)