Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. 100
    Nothing in Joe Wright's screen version of Ian McEwan's dense, internalized 2001 novel of secrets and lies should really work, but damn near everything does. It's some kind of miracle. Written, directed and acted to perfection, Atonement sweeps you up on waves of humor, heartbreak and ravishing romance.
  2. 100
    This is one of the year's best films, a certain best picture nominee.
  3. 100
    The interpretation is so painstaking and moving that almost every moment delivers a shuddering jolt to the head and the heart.
  4. 100
    What might seem like showing off in another movie is dazzling storytelling here, packing in an hour's worth of human misery.
  5. An unforgettable examination of a host of dark impulses.
  6. The result is a film that has "Masterpiece Theatre" production values but not an ounce of dust upon it.
  7. Reviewed by: Helen O'Hara
    Gorgeous cinematography, a lilting score and near-faultless performances, under Wright’s assured direction, make this the first contender for next year’s Best Picture Oscar.
  8. 100
    Through unexpected and cathartic twists, this movie leaves you with atonement and redemption.
  9. 100
    This is one of the few adaptations that gives a splendid novel the film it deserves.
  10. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    No two-hour film could ever capture all the riches of McEwan's masterly novel. But Wright and Hampton's Atonement comes tantalizingly close, while adding sensual delights all its own.
  11. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    Rarely has a book sprung so vividly to life, but also worked so enthrallingly in pure movie terms, as with Atonement, Brit helmer Joe Wright’s smart, dazzlingly upholstered adaptation of Ian McEwan’s celebrated 2001 novel.
  12. A singular achievement -- romantic, sensuous, intelligent and finally shattering in its sweep and thematic complexity.
  13. 100
    Nothing comes easily in Atonement, especially its ending, which, both happy and tragic, is as wrenching as it is genuinely satisfying. How fitting, somehow, that a novel so devoted to the precision and passionate love of language be captured in a film that is simply too exquisite for words.
  14. 100
    Atonement is that rare combo: a good movie based on a good book.
  15. 91
    The generous, sharp performances, especially Garai's, deepen the story's emotional impact, as does Wright's assured, frequently astounding direction.
  16. With compelling and charismatic performances by Keira Knightley and James McAvoy as the lovers, and a stunning contribution from Romola Garai as their remorseful nemesis, the film goes directly to "The English Patient" territory and might also expect rapturous audiences and major awards.
  17. 90
    May not hit every note perfectly, but the picture they've come up with is full-bodied and intelligent.
  18. It’s not quite as brutalizing as McEwan’s brilliant source novel – it bears too much of a Great Art buff – but it ravishes nonetheless in its grand exploration of the sins of the daughter and a lifetime spent making reparations.
  19. Hampton and Wright have been more than sensible when it comes to Atonement. They’ve responded intuitively to a tale that is half art and half potboiler, like so many stories worth telling.
  20. In the end, Atonement sorts truth from fiction as it delivers a shattering kick to the solar plexus.
  21. 88
    Atonement is effective at getting under the skin, and some audience members won't like that.
  22. Vanessa Redgrave, as the adult Briony, appears at the very end in a monologue that rounds out the film with heartbreaking force.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 365 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 99 out of 157
  2. Negative: 37 out of 157
  1. Mar 26, 2014
    I used to prefer reading books on watching movies because i found them much enjoyable. This movie really gives me the impression that I'm reading an endless fabulous romance story that I can't stop reading. Unfortunately the story ends tragically. But it will remain one of the memorable books I've read. Full Review »
  2. Jun 15, 2013
    Hated this movie. I was surprised at how awful it was considering how much I normally love the actors. Skip this movie. I rarely disagree with my favorite critic, Wall Street Journal's Morgenstern, but I can't see any redeeming qualities in this film Full Review »
  3. Jun 9, 2013
    Powerful storytelling. The way the movie unfolds with all of its hidden secrets and betrayals is great. A very moving picture with scenes so effortlessly done. It isn't a joyous film, but one with great performances, art direction, and a surprising ending. Full Review »