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

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 380 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 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
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. 100
    This is one of the few adaptations that gives a splendid novel the film it deserves.
  2. An unforgettable examination of a host of dark impulses.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. It is an amazing story, filled with quiet moments of profundity and more surprises than you could imagine.
  6. It's an imperfect movie that serves as a perfect reminder of what the movies do best.
  7. Reviewed by: Jeff Beresford-Howe
    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 159
  1. MiriamY
    Dec 12, 2007
    Astonishing movie. Beautiful and deeply emotional. The performances are brilliant, especially by Knightley and McAvoy as the star-crossed lovers. This move has made me feel what I haven't felt in ages when watching a movie. A definite standout from the rest of the films out there now. Brilliant, gorgeous and captivating. Bravo!!! Expand
  2. ThulaniF.
    Feb 15, 2008
    It's the intriguing British true story movie I have ever come across and it has a lot of character.
  3. LuísD.
    Jan 23, 2008
    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
  4. May 5, 2012
    movie began a bit slow, but got better later.
  5. Filmfan
    Dec 24, 2007
    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. Expand
  6. G.aryW.
    Mar 25, 2008
    I liked about an hour of it. Unfortunately it was 2 hours long. Meandering, and, ultimately pointless. Keira Knightley though is absolutely spellbinding. Expand
  7. AlexS.
    Jan 16, 2008
    Overrated Oscar bait.

See all 159 User Reviews