At the Movies

I can’t recall the last time I sat so affected by a movie.

Last night, Deb, Kate, and I went to see Atonement, of which I had heard only superlative things but had only a superficial understanding of the plot. I had not read Ian McEwan’s novel on which this is based but attended based on the positive reviews, the superb cast, and it presented me with a chance to go the movies, something rarely turned down.

We watched in silence and when the final credits rolled, I sat there, rather deeply moved. I can only relate it to the distressed mood Kate was in when we took her to see Titanic almost exactly a decade ago. She was so shaken by the downbeat ending, we had to take her to the diner so she could decompress and process what she had seen.

I sat slumped in my seat; feeling rather moved by director Joe Wright’s adaptation. Now, I’ve been exhilarated, satisfied, surprised, and highly entertained by movies, but cannot recall the last I felt moved.

Likely, it has a lot to do with my unfamiliarity with the complete story and its elegant production values that brought things to life. Kate commented on the amazing camera work during the Dunkirk sequence and looking back, she’s right. It was seamless work and didn’t call attention to itself but went a long way to bringing the horror of the battle’s aftermath to life.

The film, like the book, plays with time and you see the same events from different points of view as well as flashbacks and flash-forwards throughout so it also means you need to pay strict attention or you’re liable to get lost.

Much has been written about Keira Knightly and James McAvoy and it’s all richly deserved. But I was supremely impressed with the work done by a trio of actresses – Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, and Vanessa Redgrave – who brought the pivotal character of Briony Tallis to life. Garai, it turns out, may be best known for living down Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights, but is unrecognizable from that unfortunate career choice. IMDB shows she’s done a bit of other work of note, but to most journalists she’s done nothing in between those two movies.

Anyway, it’s sumptuous and moving and highly recommended. The themes are heavy ones and it’s certainly not for everyone but you may find yourself moved as well.