Highlighted by powerful scenery, a strong script and four of the best acting performances to appear on screen, Atonement mesmerizes and excites on its way to being one of the best films of the year.
The major point of success for the film lies in its cast. Keira Knightly and James McAvoy both give great performances as the falsely accused and his love interest. However both of these performances were expected to be brilliant as that is the standard that both stars have placed on their work. The true surprise of the film was in both Saoirse Ronan and Romola Garai who stole the show as the tattling Briony Tallis at the ages of 13 and 18. Capturing every thought and emotion, both women bring Tallis to life, provoking a feeling of hate from the viewers and succeed in ultimately holding their own against two of the best actors of the present generation.
Another major plus for the film was its music and cinematography. Throughout the film it is impossible to not notice the major impact that the music plays. Keeping to the theme of letter writing the sound of a typewriter is often heard in the background, keeping pace with the action on the screen. Not only does this simple method tie together different aspects of the story but it helps to build intensity throughout this heavy drama, creating a sense of urgency with the viewers. In addition the scenery is absolutely captivating throughout the film. From the high grasses of the Tallis property to the riveting beach where the enlisted men await their return home; each scene is fascinating, capturing the mood and emotions of all present.
However the most impressive part of the film was its story. Told through a three sided triangle each character was fully developed and their story played out to the audience in its entirety. But what truly impressed me was the deep, complex subject matter that was addressed. Combining the forces of misunderstanding, false conviction, family drama and the art of growing up and accepting your past mistakes, Atonement provides for some intense moments full of emotion and complexity. Nonetheless the situations are handled brilliantly by the director and leading case and in the end all three stories are pulled together to form one unexpected yet amazing conclusion that leaves no questions unanswered.
In the end the film is amazing. Combining a terrific story, unblemished scenery and a cast unlike any other; Atonement sits atop the leader board as one of the top films of the year.