Rated 5.0

Director Joe Wright has made a devastatingly sad and powerful movie with Atonement. It’s one of those films whose power hits you in the last 10 minutes and then really just kills you on the drive home. Wright, who made a big impression with his Pride & Prejudice, re-teams with Keira Knightley for a film that isn’t afraid to mix total darkness with beauty. Young Briony (the talented Saoirse Ronan) is an aspiring writer with a crush on house employee Robbie Turner (James McAvoy). She’s a young romantic who hasn’t gained full control of her emotions yet, and she makes a younger person’s mistake that gets Robbie into severe trouble. He’s accused and condemned for a crime he is innocent of, and the course of his life is irreversibly changed. Further complicating matters is that her older sister Cecilia (Knightley) is also in love with Robbie, and Robbie is in love with her. Atonement is a sad, romantic story that could’ve so easily been a rapturous one were it not for a few childish mistakes. Its impact is a lasting one.