When I was a kid and had a stomach virus or flu I was allowed to drink Coke, which was something of a treat as my parents tried to keep us away from sugary drinks. The catch was, though, that we had to let the glass sit out and get flat. And in the end it was medicine by any other name.
And that’s what Atonement is – a flat drink.
The time-shifts and the echoey, long-take middle section might lead you to think there is some new, perhaps Malick-inspired innovation happening here but, the closing credits come as a shock. When is the movie going to start? When are we going to get to know these characters? When are we going to have insight into the pain and conflict they are going through? This….this can’t be it? This can’t be the movie version of the book that I’ve seen people reading on the subway every day for the last ten years?
I’ve no doubt that that book is engrossing, but as a film I must say I am not impressed. And don’t tell me “it’s subtle” because any movie with a 10 minute tracking shot or multiple close-ups of the word CUNT is not going for subtlety.
Looks nice, though – and the performances in the first bit (the bit when there’s actually scene work happening) is pretty good.