For the past week or so I've been reading Ian McEwan's Atonement in preparation for the critically acclaimed film. The book is one of the most satisfying reads I've had recently. I especially admire how the author successfully builds up the tension on the first half of the novel and the longing on the second half. The mood is lugubrious and the pace is a bit tedious, but herein lies the beauty of the book. You root for the consequences and anticipate the resolution. I've always wondered how the film would effectively translate all these, especially coz the book is very introspective.
Last night I found in the papers that there was a sneak preview of the film version. Having finished only three quarters of the book so far (I'm a terribly slow reader), I was hesitating whether I should watch the film, which I've been eagerly awaiting, even before wrapping up the book. Patience is not really one of my virtues so in a snap I was in a cab for the 10.30 pm screening at Central World.
If you're planning to watch the film, please stop reading right here as I cannot help writing some spoilers.
From the opening credits down to the last minutes of the film I was mesmerized. Just like the book, there was a deliberate and long amplification of the moments that lead to the "crime". But you'd always know that something is coming up if you notice all the subtleties of the character's expressions and movements. A lot of the events in the film are all about build up and it's not until the last minutes of it does it rise to a thrilling crescendo, which left me shaking my head in awe (and I resolved to finish that fucking book pronto!).
Playing the 13-year old Briony Tallis, Saoirse Ronan grabs you by her excellently delivered deep-rooted sense of menace and imagined omniscience. If there is any actor who crushes everybody else in the film, the young Ms Ronan successfully clinched the bragging rights. James McAvoy is a close second and certainly his career would take off from here on. Keira Knightly on the other hand is surprisingly capable as the restless and fiery Emily Tallis. (That bitch is skinny I was drooling over her green, cascading gown!).
One of the more remarkable moments of the film (and there are lots of them dear) is the sex scene in the library. From tentative start of the encounter to its hurried climax (ooops!) I was constantly saying to my self: damn, that's passion as I remember it.
Most of the elements of the movie are truly admirable. Cinematography is superb. Watch out for the long beach scene. The music is also cunning, seemingly beating to the rhythm of the audience's overwrought heart as the revelations unfold.
For some reason, the film reminds of Casablanca and The End of the Affair, two of my most favorite films. Damn, I'm such a sucker of unfulfilled love.
Photo credits: 1) The Gaze, 2) IMP Awards.