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85

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 433 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Atonement spans several decades. In 1935, 13-year-old fledgling writer Briony Tallis and her family live a life of wealth and privilege in their enormous mansion. On the warmest day of the year, the country estate takes on an unsettling hothouse atmosphere, stoking Briony's vividAtonement spans several decades. In 1935, 13-year-old fledgling writer Briony Tallis and her family live a life of wealth and privilege in their enormous mansion. On the warmest day of the year, the country estate takes on an unsettling hothouse atmosphere, stoking Briony's vivid imagination. Robbie Turner, the educated son of the family's housekeeper, carries a torch for Briony's headstrong older sister, Cecilia. Cecilia, he hopes, has comparable feelings; all it will take is one spark for this relationship to combust. When it does, Briony--who has a crush on Robbie--is compelled to interfere, going so far as to accuse Robbie of a crime he did not commit. Cecilia and Robbie declare their love for each other, but Robbie is arrested--and with Briony bearing false witness, the course of three lives is changed forever. Briony continues to seek forgiveness for her childhood misdeed. Through a terrible and courageous act of imagination, she finds the path to her uncertain atonement and to an understanding of the power of enduring love. (Focus Features) Expand
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. 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.
  2. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    100
    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.
  3. An unforgettable examination of a host of dark impulses.
  4. 88
    Atonement is effective at getting under the skin, and some audience members won't like that.
  5. 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.
  6. It's an imperfect movie that serves as a perfect reminder of what the movies do best.
  7. Reviewed by: Jeff Beresford-Howe
    40
    Imagine if the team that made "The English Patient" tried to make the same kind of movie, with even more brave-lads-fighting-the-Jerries porn and this time with Extra Added English country manor porn, and without really good actors, and this movie is what you’d have.

See all 36 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 37 out of 160
  1. 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.
  2. AmyS.
    Feb 15, 2008
    10
    Favourite movie of all time. love it.
  3. 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 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. Collapse
  4. May 5, 2012
    7
    movie began a bit slow, but got better later.
  5. 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 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
  6. PauA.
    Feb 18, 2008
    4
    Flirting with the ridiculous. An example of over-explained narrative, too obvious. I don't believe it at all.
  7. AlexS.
    Jan 16, 2008
    0
    Overrated Oscar bait.

See all 160 User Reviews

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