Atonement

User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 446 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 52 out of 446
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  1. ds
    Jan 1, 2008
    5
    I don't think I have ever disagreed more with the critics. The basic story is a tawdry, contrived sequence of events, intended to be tragic, but only evoked irritation in this viewer. I was especially annoyed by the prolonged and ultimately pointless WWII portion of the story. The surprise ending only served to extend the tedium. The 'atonement' seems tacked on and empty. I don't think I have ever disagreed more with the critics. The basic story is a tawdry, contrived sequence of events, intended to be tragic, but only evoked irritation in this viewer. I was especially annoyed by the prolonged and ultimately pointless WWII portion of the story. The surprise ending only served to extend the tedium. The 'atonement' seems tacked on and empty. Maybe that was the point? The cinematography is excellent, but seems too artistic for the story. At times the soundtrack was a bit ham-handed. Someone sure fell in love with the oh-so-clever sound of typewriter keys. Most of the acting was at least adequate. James McAvoy does a great job, but Kiera Knightly seems miscast. Overall, I found this movie was very disappointing. Expand
  2. C.B.
    Dec 30, 2007
    4
    OVERRATED. What a snoozefest.
  3. BillC.
    Jan 7, 2008
    6
    Too long in parts, and tries to hard to be artsie in the same vein at The English Patient. The story was fine, but too slow at first and the war scenes were over long. Then there was all the cutbacks and flashs forward. You have to stay for the ending, or it makes no sense at all. The acting is well done , it's just too long and strangly edited.
  4. JaredC.
    Mar 27, 2008
    4
    I'm not dissapointed, except for the fact that it won an oscar for best music for motion pictures written directly for the screen, original score. I was hoping that Sweeney would win. But right from the get go I hated it. I saw it last night and thought it would be one of those critics-35, users-4.7 movies such as 10,000 BC or Jumper. That's exactly what I got. A dull and dreary I'm not dissapointed, except for the fact that it won an oscar for best music for motion pictures written directly for the screen, original score. I was hoping that Sweeney would win. But right from the get go I hated it. I saw it last night and thought it would be one of those critics-35, users-4.7 movies such as 10,000 BC or Jumper. That's exactly what I got. A dull and dreary dry picture with no excitement or brilliance what so ever. It takes a good story and twists it into a bad one by over-extending the scrpit with much stupidity said enough in this film. I can't say I didn't like it because it isn't my taste, it's just that it felt like all it was was some continuous random sex scenes that were unesecary, escpecially the one sex scene when they were standing up. Now what'd so wrong about having sex in yer bed huh. But, anyways, it wasn't good. Expand
  5. Hollyc
    Mar 28, 2008
    5
    I agree with A.O. Scott's review--almost completely. The beginning starts off fairly well---predictable--but everything is firing perfectly in just about every area --acting, set, direction, DP, etc (maybe dialog isn't perfect). But holy heck does it take a detour to lost-muddy-mess. I haven't seen this level of navel gazing cinematography since Terrence Malik kept the I agree with A.O. Scott's review--almost completely. The beginning starts off fairly well---predictable--but everything is firing perfectly in just about every area --acting, set, direction, DP, etc (maybe dialog isn't perfect). But holy heck does it take a detour to lost-muddy-mess. I haven't seen this level of navel gazing cinematography since Terrence Malik kept the camera on grass for the first 10 minutes of "The New World". The ending of course, is suppose to grab you and leave you with the very real feeling of sadness, guilt and atonement---which is very much a part of the novel it's based on---in fact I think Vanessa Redgrave's last 5 minutes on screen was some of the best acting in the film ( Keira sure is pretty though)--however Redgrave and the heart-wrenching reveal can't save the mess in the middle. I'm a little shocked so many critics praised this film at the level they did. Expand
  6. FredB.
    Mar 23, 2008
    4
    Another slooow movie, with a ridiculous premise (the writing and delivery of a very obscene note), in a story told in annoying flashbacks. The beach scene with its ferris wheel, animal cruelty, and exhausted, injured soldiers, was confusing and went on and on. The only good thing I have to say is that the ending is imaginative and slightly redeeming to the rest of this tedious picture.
  7. Jan 10, 2012
    5
    While I can appreciate why some people would enjoy this movie I felt it was more of a period drama and was annoyingly slow moving. There were no surprises in the movie so why they chose to drag out the scenes is beyond me. Also the disjointed plot involving the second world war scenes only further distanced me from the movie. Although it was all brought together at the end I struggled toWhile I can appreciate why some people would enjoy this movie I felt it was more of a period drama and was annoyingly slow moving. There were no surprises in the movie so why they chose to drag out the scenes is beyond me. Also the disjointed plot involving the second world war scenes only further distanced me from the movie. Although it was all brought together at the end I struggled to keep my interest from waning. Expand
  8. ScottW.
    Feb 26, 2008
    5
    Vastly overrated. As of right now, there's a full 15 point difference between the critics score, 85, and the people's score, 70. This ALWAYS should raise the alert. Critics tend to have their heads up...well you know. (see "Lost In Translation"). Mediocre movie, decent ending, better than bleeding to death in a bathtub but not as good as a grilled cheese sandwich.
  9. SuzanneL.
    Feb 3, 2008
    6
    Disjointed, disappointing, slow. I had high hopes for an epic love story. It didn't deliver. Definitely not the best picture of the year.
  10. DWilly
    Dec 10, 2007
    6
    An odd and awkward movie that nevertheless manages a few good stabs in the heart, thanks mostly to the potent reality of WWII, James McAvoy, Saoirse Ronan (is there a law that good child actors must have bizzare names?), and a little to Keira Knightly. The direction is capable, but at times flamboyant in a way that seems inorganic, and the story rather a hurky-jerky mess. If there was any An odd and awkward movie that nevertheless manages a few good stabs in the heart, thanks mostly to the potent reality of WWII, James McAvoy, Saoirse Ronan (is there a law that good child actors must have bizzare names?), and a little to Keira Knightly. The direction is capable, but at times flamboyant in a way that seems inorganic, and the story rather a hurky-jerky mess. If there was any actual atonement, I missed it. Expand
  11. JenniferC
    Dec 30, 2007
    6
    Two old-school extremely knowledgeable film veterans review ATONEMENT. It's a great review - and leaves you something to think about. Check it out on YouTube... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPJpnaEnAvE Beware...may contain spoilers
  12. CarolineM.
    Dec 6, 2007
    5
    I, and four others (one of whom had read the book) saw this movie and unanimously disliked it. We found it dragged terribly and while it was certainly very stylish and clever(too much so) it lacked any soul. I definitely wouldn't recommend it.
  13. RichardW.
    Jan 4, 2008
    6
    Beautifully filmed but so very sloooooow.
  14. ng
    Feb 20, 2008
    6
    The whole story feels like a made-up and most of the scenes are so *** unnatural. Yet somehow it is heart touching maybe because of the girl who's the only intense character here. A good thing to see but only once.
  15. TonyL.
    Jan 10, 2008
    5
    This movie had a great premiise. but faded as it went on. The story jumped around too much. I think this would have worked better as a mini-series
  16. RonC.
    Jan 22, 2008
    6
    The central problem with this film and too many films made over the past 15-20 years is that the editing becomes the most important character. The is one more story told out of time sequence, not because it is a dramatic need of one of the characters (say a character with amnesia who remembers only bits of her past and we take that journey of remembrance with her), but because it is a The central problem with this film and too many films made over the past 15-20 years is that the editing becomes the most important character. The is one more story told out of time sequence, not because it is a dramatic need of one of the characters (say a character with amnesia who remembers only bits of her past and we take that journey of remembrance with her), but because it is a structural need for the screenwriter to achieve his plot twist at the end. The writer simply cannot take us on a worthwhile journey starting us at A and ending us at Z, and so flashes us backwards and forwards in time until we're so good and seasick that anything he present in the last 15 minutes of the movie will be a stunner. The interesting thing is that Atonement would have been a good movie without the manipulation. The direction is spot on and the performances compelling. But because I know I was being led around by the nose by the writer, it kicked up all my authority issues and I just refused to be moved. Expand
  17. DaveK
    Jan 22, 2008
    4
    AO Scott nailed his review of this film.
  18. Michael
    Jan 4, 2008
    5
    Mediocre movie at best. There was no emotion in the movie, nor were the characters tangible in the least. This movie frustrated and angered me because of how disappointing it was and how good it could have been.
  19. PauA.
    Feb 18, 2008
    4
    Flirting with the ridiculous. An example of over-explained narrative, too obvious. I don't believe it at all.
  20. G.aryW.
    Mar 25, 2008
    4
    I liked about an hour of it. Unfortunately it was 2 hours long. Meandering, and, ultimately pointless. Keira Knightley though is absolutely spellbinding.
  21. Kayleighms
    Mar 28, 2008
    5
  22. CraigA.
    Apr 10, 2008
    4
    Very disappointing ending. Pointless red herrings.
  23. DanielW.
    Dec 15, 2007
    6
    The most disappointing thing about this film is that it doesn't even try to provide a cinematic equivalent of the startling novelistic twist that is at the heart of Macewan's masterpiece. What we get is a well-made, well-acted, but very proper and sterile period piece. It is the kind of thing Oscar loves, but in a year that gave us the chutzpah and innovation of Into the Wild, The most disappointing thing about this film is that it doesn't even try to provide a cinematic equivalent of the startling novelistic twist that is at the heart of Macewan's masterpiece. What we get is a well-made, well-acted, but very proper and sterile period piece. It is the kind of thing Oscar loves, but in a year that gave us the chutzpah and innovation of Into the Wild, I'm Not There, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and even Lumet's Devil, it would be a shame if this dull little movie ended up with more than Best Costume statuettes. Yawn. Expand
  24. BR.
    Dec 20, 2007
    5
    A chic flick dressed up in British WWII garb. World War II seemed shorter that this movie.
  25. JDA
    Dec 29, 2007
    4
    beautiful to look at; Something was wrong --was it the editing? I found it very loose, and not connected; It might have worked better for me if V redgrave's appearance happened in the beginning and end setting up the story and givng the final stroke.. Loved James!!! I would tell people wait for HBO on this one.
  26. R.A.L.
    Jan 22, 2008
    5
    Starts and ends well, but the rest is a by-the-numbers epic populated with cliches and gimmicky cinematic devices and ostentation. The film becomes hollow and forced... until Vanessa Redgrave appears and redeems the whole thing somewhat.
  27. LindaL.
    Jan 27, 2008
    6
    What I was hoping for: Something like "The English Patient." What I got: Something like "Masterpiece Theater."
  28. DaleM
    Feb 13, 2008
    5
    If you liked the English Patient, then you'll like this. Unfortunately, I am not so patient. The plot in this movie is not strong enough to hold anyone's attention. If you don't like costumes and period piece scenery, there isn't a lot in this movie. The war scene was good and was the antithesis of everything else in the movie.
  29. MorganF.
    Apr 17, 2009
    4
    This movie was so long and the plot was horribly thin. The acting was decent, but it hardly carried the film.
  30. ScottS.
    Dec 23, 2007
    5
    Whereas the amazing narrative structure of the book delivers a final punch to the gut, the movie offers only a slight nudge. The movie never comes alive, and therefore the audience never comes to care. And while James McAvoy does his best to raise our passions, Keira Knightley is distractingly bad. She looks great on the red carpet, but said carpet would be a better actress.
  31. Filmfan
    Dec 24, 2007
    6
    You know, this is not a bad film, and it is a serious effort. But I can't say it better than William Arnold, so I will quoate instead: "The characters are not hugely compelling, the performances never completely grab us, and much of the story, while visually arresting, is dramatically tedious." Spot on.
Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. An unforgettable examination of a host of dark impulses.
  2. 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.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    75
    The movie never goes as deep as the novel (no movie could), but it's a worthy approximation: a Merchant-Ivory movie that turns in on itself with a lucid and painful sigh.