Critical Analysis of Atonement
Joe Wright’s adaptation of Ian McEwan’s award winning novel Atonement (2001) explores and develops the complex and layered ideas surrounding the ultimate betrayal of a young girl. On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis irrevocably changes the lives of her sister Cecilia and her love, Robbie, by inexcusably accusing Robbie of a crime he didn’t commit. Wright illustrates the damaging and long-reaching impact of the young girls misjudged decision through three significant periods in the film. The misleading metafiction of the narrative facilitates the cruel manipulation of the viewers’ emotions as Wright interprets Ian McEwan’s masterful novel.
The tormented soul of Cecilia Tallis has been beautifully captured by Kiera Knightley as she continues to impress with her ability to evoke and manipulate viewers’ emotions. Her lover, Robbie Turner, is portrayed by James McAvoy who utilises strong facial expressions in order to depict the lasting impact of his past in prison and war. Briony Tallis is played by three actors over the duration of the film, however the most impressive portrayal is performed by Soairse Ronan who depicts Briony at an early age in the Tallis mansion. The film’s costume and design enhances the performances of the actors as each costume was designed to embody each character’s personality. In particular are the change in costume of Cecilia. As she distances herself from her family and their wealth, her vibrant silk gowns are replaced with cotton dressing gowns evoking sympathy from the audience. This costume change also represents the change in herself and her attitude towards Robbie. The night Robbie was stolen from Cecilia, she wore a spectacular flowing emerald dress which moved and reacted with each change in emotion as Cecillia waited for Robbie in the cool breeze on the steps. As the mood changes from the discovery of love to heart break Seamus McGravey, director of...
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