As the snow grows deeper and the wolves gather at your door, nobody would blame you for choosing to tuck yourself under a blanket, make some cocoa and relax with a charming, optimistic Christmas movie. Since there don’t seem to be any on this weekend, however, you’ll get Atonement and like it!
Joe Wright’s second film arrived amidst much anticipation, following his debut Pride and Prejudice – a film which shocked audiences and critics by actually being a worthwhile addition to the Jane-Austen-on-film canon, but also by coaxing a terrific performance out of his lead Keira Knightley (I would argue that these two films marked a turning point in Knightley’s reputation among the public – she’s now mostly regarded as a highly talented actress, rather than a pouting box office mascot). Atonement soars on the performances James McAvoy as doomed lovers Cecilia and Robbie, separated by the childish malice of Briony (Saoirse Ronan) and the oncoming storm of the Second World War. The film was nominated for Best Picture and 5 other gongs at the Academy Awards, and even scooped No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood for Best Film at the 2008 BAFTAs.
If you’ve seen it, you’ll understand just how punishing Atonement can be for those of a cheerful temperament. A story of doomed love and heartbreaking regret set in the darkest years of the 20th century, the film goes to harsh places to underscore the tragedy of Ian McEwan’s source novel. The story of Cecilia and Robbie tells us that true love can’t always win out, and Briony’s plot offers a stark message in itself: sometimes nothing can make up for past mistakes, even if takes a lifetime. Essential viewing.
Sunday 19th December, 10:15 PM – ITV1