"No rhymes, no embellishments..."
As the evocative sound of a typewriter writes the word "Atonement", the image turns into a gloriously beautiful doll house. A blonde girl typewrites as the signature piano starts. Precocious, blue-eyed, Briony finishes her play in that 1930's high class nursery where the story begins.
A scene representing everything, us, writers, have been founded by. The whimsical, sweet flavor of the dollhouse, the nursery, and the countryside scenario (a la J.M. Barrie)as the sound of words pouring out of the typewriter and this bright-eyed girl's hands, writing off in her beautiful paper.
Whimsical enough to have me, sitting here writing about a movie I just finished watching.
Atonement, Ian McEwan's acclaimed novel, turned into celluloid.
Exquisite and shocking in every possible way, Atonement, tells the story Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and Robbie (James McAvoy), whose romance was unfairly denied by a decision 13 year-old Briony took, that caused Robbie's imprisonment and sending to war.
The movie follows Cecilia as she leaves her family for their injustice and enrolls in nursery school, and Robbie in a German-invaded Northern France during the Dunkirk evacuation.
Silent yet expressive, the simple story-line is told by sublime and breath-taking scenes, achieved by Joe Wright's vision, Dario Marianelli's signature piano, an amazing camera work and a, what I think was, incredible team.
Crossed scenes, silent, but expressive. Playing with ethereal lights and shadows, present and past mixtures and a piano fused with the sound of a typewriter, Joe Wright manages to keep you mouth-gaping the whole movie, with your heart bursting with the beauty of the scenarios and scenes so sublime, like a 5 minutes-long take where Robbie walks around Dunkirk, which isn't cut or moved for 5 minutes, ending with him standing in front of a black and white, old-hollywood, movie proyection of a couple kissing, contrasted with the atrocities of war you saw the 5 minutes before. The music roaring as he walks through the wounded and despaired soldiers, who sing to keep the hopes up. Then he reaches the screen, thinking of Cecilia, and his promise of coming back. Your chest fills with something you can't explain, and you get chills up and down your spine, and tears are very likely to sprout from your eyes.
With a highly-unexpected end, shocking and quite unbelievable, Atonement is one of the best movies I've seen in a while.
Just as in Pride and Prejudice (which is one of my favorite movies and forever will be, for things this movie has too), Joe Wright is able to express the story beyond acting. He expresses it visually, manipulating elements like the colorful, natural scenarios in which the imposing Victorian mansion is located, crude war scenes, settings, lighting, costumes (like Keira Knightley's green dress below), lost dialogues here and there that truly are the ones that pull the story together and a certain way of telling the story.
Plus, an amazing cast, capable of portraying their characters with just their eyes.
Bravo for the whole crew!
When the movie comes to the final part, which was an end (which, of course, I won't tell) that totally caught me off-guard, you just can't believe the twist the story takes, and the simplicity it's told with. Simple words, simple, feelings, no rhymes, no embellishments, no scenarios, no ethereal lights, just simplicity of words.
Exquisite from beginning to end, Atonement is the kind of movies that still has you glued to the screen even though you're halfway the credits. They stay with you for a while.
So bad, that here I am, channeling Briony and her typewriter, trying to put in words those enticing images.
I don't think I truly can.
Infinite x's & o's...