Atonement

User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 475 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 52 out of 475

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User Reviews

  1. LuísD.
    Jan 23, 2008
    10
    Atonement is a wonderful film which shows an incresing story of love and subsequent tragedy and a sad mixture of feelings that makes us sad and horrified for the untimely ending of the story. For those who had read Ian McEwan's book, the film appears as a wonderfully faithful adaptation of the book which is able to surprise and to touch those of read it and those who didn't and Atonement is a wonderful film which shows an incresing story of love and subsequent tragedy and a sad mixture of feelings that makes us sad and horrified for the untimely ending of the story. For those who had read Ian McEwan's book, the film appears as a wonderfully faithful adaptation of the book which is able to surprise and to touch those of read it and those who didn't and in the end we are left with this question: if it had happened to us, could we bring ourselves to forgive someone like Briony Tallis? Is it possible to find the titular Atonement after all those years? Acting-wise, Keira Knightley, James McAvoy and Vanessa Redgrave receive my praise as Cecilia Tallis, Robbie Turner and a 70-year-old penitent Briony Tallis. Expand
  2. 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
  3. C.B.
    Dec 30, 2007
    4
    OVERRATED. What a snoozefest.
  4. DaveC.
    Nov 20, 2008
    2
    It was horrible. It was insanely slow and even more boring. Waste of time and money.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. JeffJ.
    Jan 5, 2008
    3
    Vastly overrated, with goofy storytelling, odd pacing, bizarre editing, less-than-convincing acting and a ridiculous ending. Given all the "100" ratings, I guess I was expecting something like Dr. Zhivago or Romeo and Juliet. Yawn.
  8. Chad
    Feb 4, 2008
    3
    I have really been extremely disappointed with this years nominations for best picture. I've seen no country for old men, there will be blood, Michael Clayton, and the latest one, atonement, was BY FAR the biggest let down. The main problem with atonement is that you are never emotionally attached to the characters and therefore never really care what happens to them. On top of that I have really been extremely disappointed with this years nominations for best picture. I've seen no country for old men, there will be blood, Michael Clayton, and the latest one, atonement, was BY FAR the biggest let down. The main problem with atonement is that you are never emotionally attached to the characters and therefore never really care what happens to them. On top of that the movie is just slow paced and uneventful throughout, and trust me, the ending does not help or justify sitting through this dull movie. If anything the ending is icing on the cake as to how bad atonement truly is. I can assure you that everyone walking out of the theatre was saying "wow, how did THAT win best picture." or "we really should have seen Rambo". Atonement gets a 3 out of 10 for having decent acting and decent camera work with some good looking shots. But nothing in this movie will give you the slightest implication that maybe just maybe it should have gotten a nomination or win for best picture. You WILL be disappointed and you WILL wish you had seen something else. DON'T waste your time. Expand
  9. urbanbushwoman
    Jan 3, 2008
    3
    the final two thirds of the movie are completely anti-climatic knightley falls flat script is empty of substance directing is overwrought and heavily decourous painful to sit through! 3 points are merely for some interesting aesthetic shots/visuals and some interesting costumes. but cant we expect more from the film medium?
  10. NigelM.
    Mar 25, 2008
    1
    Don't believe the hype. This film is dull, dull, dull. Lot's of over acting and meaningful staring into the middle distance. No substance whatsoever and rubbish dialogue. A case of the emporers new clothes as far as the awards it has won. Don't waste your time and money on this.
  11. 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
  12. AlexS.
    Jan 16, 2008
    0
    Overrated Oscar bait.
  13. 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.
  14. Wayne
    Apr 25, 2008
    3
    This was a particularly boring movie. I couldn't tell what was going on and it was filled with inappropriate material. I left 3/4 of the way through.
  15. 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
  16. May 5, 2012
    7
    movie began a bit slow, but got better later.
  17. Mar 16, 2013
    2
    Atonement is a slow, boring and un-compelling film with not a single character that was remotely interesting. Nothing came to life and that's mainly to blame from poor storytelling.
  18. BillyS.
    Jan 10, 2008
    8
    If you want to take an average story and turn it into a movie with an undeniable knock-out ending just hire a Redgrave to deliver it. A couple of years ago Lynn Redgrave gave a performance at the end of Kinsey that elevated that film from being a so-so biopic into a riveting study on human behavior, and it was only a 5 minute scene! In Atonement, it's sister Vanessa in a 5 minute If you want to take an average story and turn it into a movie with an undeniable knock-out ending just hire a Redgrave to deliver it. A couple of years ago Lynn Redgrave gave a performance at the end of Kinsey that elevated that film from being a so-so biopic into a riveting study on human behavior, and it was only a 5 minute scene! In Atonement, it's sister Vanessa in a 5 minute scene at the end that transforms the movie from a typical English Merchant-Ivory style love story into a epic story of love, lies, despair and redemption. It hooks you into a love story torn apart by a single lie and follows the plotline through the years ending at a beautiful and totally unexpected place that only Vannessa Redgrave could take you to. She is truly one of the worlds great actors. Keira Knightley and James McAvoy are excellent as the lovers torn apart and Saoirse Ronan & Romola Garai are perfect as the younger stages of the Redgrave character. The cinematography by Seamus McGarvey is brilliant, in the league of Roger Deakins and Robert Elswit this year (you'll see those three names when Oscar nominations are announced!) Atonement is an old fashioned love story that becomes an epic movie going experience the minute Vannessa Redgrave defines Atonement! Expand
  19. KY.
    Feb 20, 2008
    10
    Brilliant movie!
  20. Angie
    Apr 20, 2008
    10
    Loved it!
  21. JoseS.
    Aug 25, 2008
    9
    This unforgettable story deserves higher ratings than its getting here. It has that "classic novel" feel of a great 19th century romance novel. Loved the 5 minutes of Vanessa Redgrave, she blew me away, she's still terrific. The scene of Dunkirk is one of the great war scenes of all time, an incredible tracking shot that follows the arriving soldiers for about a mile along the shore. This unforgettable story deserves higher ratings than its getting here. It has that "classic novel" feel of a great 19th century romance novel. Loved the 5 minutes of Vanessa Redgrave, she blew me away, she's still terrific. The scene of Dunkirk is one of the great war scenes of all time, an incredible tracking shot that follows the arriving soldiers for about a mile along the shore. Also kudos to the entire cast, the beautiful green dress, and the original novelist, this was an unforgettable story. Collapse
  22. SeanC.
    Feb 24, 2008
    9
    Nice story line with not your typical predictable ending. Great acting by James McAvoy!
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. RJ
    Mar 31, 2008
    10
    Amazing emotional story. There is some very honest acting in this film.
  26. CynthiaH.
    May 13, 2008
    10
    A beautifully made, multi-layered adaptation of McEwan's fabulous novel. Don't believe the NY Times and the New Yorker on this one!! And Jeff Beresford-Howe must have eaten a bad clam before writing his review.
  27. Charles
    Dec 10, 2007
    10
    An amazing work of cinematic art. The best film I have seen in the last five years. Better than Gosford Park.
  28. 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
  29. 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
  30. 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.
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.