Having finished reading Atonement, I watched the film. It follows the book in its essentials, but reduces the first part, which accounts for half the book, to the core components. It seemed to capture nicely languid summers and the snobbery of upper middle class Britain in 1935. The section about the retreat to Dunkirk perhaps made less sense without reading the book first, and I don’t remember either corporal in the book being black, although knowing McEwan’s style, I probably missed that bit. The last part became an interview as Briony is coming to the end of her life, having had a career as a well-known novelist.
Didn’t think much of Keira Knightley. I’m sure she tries her best, but she still comes across like a 5th former in the school play. I thought she sounded a little unnatural as she tried to effect the sort of attitude and tone a character like Cecilia might’ve had; but Knightley lacks the gravitas to pull it off. [21.08.14. Curiously, while I’ve been editing reviews, I found an entry for another film where I said that Knightley lacked gravitas.] On the other hand, the guy who played Paul Marshall managed to portray the character as an utterly oily creep.
Pretty cinematography, but overall not a film which I think you’re going to miss if you never see it.