Thursday, March 13, 2008

Atonement DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Ambitious Adaptation of Romance Novel Released on DVD

How many times have you heard yourself say that the book was better? Well, despite its seven Oscar nominations, be prepared to add this historical drama to that long list of disappointing screen adaptations. Based on Ian McEwan’s critically-acclaimed romance novel, Atonement is an overly-ambitious adaptation which takes license with conventional, linear storytelling by periodically repeating scenes from slightly different perspectives.
This implausible picture earns higher marks for its visually-stimulating flights of fancy than for its ultimately unsatisfying underlying plotline. Cinematic effects aside, the film is essentially an eventful tale of unrequited love. It all revolves around an incestuous love triangle which tears two sisters apart, ruins a promising young man’s future, and leaves the vengeful, odd-girl out wracked with guilt for the rest of her days.
Set on the sprawling country estate of the Tallis family, this generation-spanning saga opens in England in 1935. There, we find 13 year-old Briony (Saoirse Ronan) devoting considerable time to spying on her big sister Cecilia’s (Keira Knightley) flirtations with their housekeeper’s handsome son, Robbie (James McAvoy).
Although too young to turn his head, the sexually-awakening Briony has a crush on Robbie, too. But because he only has eyes for her sibling, the frustrated voyeur falsely accuses him of rape and he is carted off to prison.
Instead of righting the wrong, Briony lives out her life in the grip of overwhelming regret. Only on her deathbed, does she pull a rabbit out of her hat which conveniently explains why she never tried to clear Robbie’s name. However, that unfair turn of events renders almost meaningless most of what you’ve just emotionally invested a couple of hours. What’s it all about, Briony?
Strictly for the daytime soap opera crowd, its sophisticated pretensions notwithstanding.

Fair (1 star)
Rated R for profanity, sexuality and disturbing war images.
Running time: 123 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes, director’s commentary and two featurettes

No comments: