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Reviews

Atonement Rolling Stone
Peter Travers
Four Stars
"Sweeps you up on waves of ravishing romance."

Nothing in Joe Wright's screen version of Ian McEwan's dense, internalized 2001 novel of secrets and lies should really work, but damn near everything does. It's some kind of miracle. Written, directed and acted to perfection, Atonement sweeps you up on waves of humor, heartbreak and ravishing romance. The film moves from the country estate of a wealthy British family, circa 1935, through the World War II battlefields of Dunkirk and finally to the end of the twentieth century, where it springs its most haunting surprise. Stuffy? Not a bit. This potently erotic spellbinder is not your father's period piece. It speaks, minus the stiff upper lip, of what's timeless about passion, art and redemption. Atonement is literary in the best possible sense: It's obsessed with the power of words.

Atonement Playboy
Stephen Rebello
"A big, lush exhilarating movie."

"A big, lush exhilarating movie. Gripping, brilliantly made, and grown up. It would be criminal to spill any more about the plot twists and turns of this sweeping epic that at times recalls the work of David Lean. James McAvoy is so compelling. Vanessa Redgrave provides a master's seminar on the art of acting. Superbly played by Saoirse Ronan."

John Powers_Vogue
John Powers
"The most enthrallingly stylish tale since 'The English Patient.'"

"The most enthrallingly stylish tale since 'The English Patient.' As we root for Robbie, Cecilia and Briony to have happy endings, we recognize that the film isn't simply a grand historical romance but an explanation of how storytelling can both betray and redeem us. Director Joe Wright wins a scarily assured turn from Saoirse Ronan. Vanessa Redgrave is radiant. As bright and hard as an emerald in her ravishing green dress, Keira Knightley's Cecilia exudes a brittle hauteur that finally can't mask a fiery spirit."

Rex Reed_New York Observer
Rex Reed
"Atonement is everything a true lover of movies could possibly hope for!"

"Atonement is everything a true lover of movies could possibly hope for! It is unquestionably, without any reservations, my favorite film of the year! Elegantly directed, meticulously acted by a perfect cast and lavishly filmed with a respect for both intimate detail and sweeping narrative. An overwhelming experience that has revived my faith in motion pictures. The genuinely talented Joe Wright does an engrossing job of turning literature into cinematic poetry. The sets, and costumes stagger the imagination. James McAvoy gives a heart-rending performance of strength and integrity. Saoirse Ronan and Romola Garai are remarkable. A revelation of the potential power of cinema to twist, mould, convince, and entertain."

Thelma Adams_Us Weekly
Thelma Adams
"Keira Knightley is a classic English rose"

"The year's best picture. James McAvoy delivers a heartbreaking performance. Saoirse Ronan and Romola Garai are both terrific. Keira Knightley is a classic English rose, hemmed by polite society, who reveals reserves of passion and strength belied by such a pretty, privileged wrapper. The country house sets are nearly as gorgeous as the actress herself, ditto the costumes and the war scenes on the beaches at Dunkirk are devastating. When we left, weeping and moved, we felt like we had lived an entire life out of our own skin, not just seen a two-hour movie."

Lou Leminick_New York Post
Lou Leminick
"Stupendous performances"

"The most achingly romantic movie since "Titanic.' Stupendous performances, stupendous directing, stupendous writing, stupendous production values and the most dazzling twist ending since 'The Sixth Sense.' I can't think of anything in the last 10 years that comes close."

Richard Corliss_Time
Richard Corliss
"A wise, beautifully acted parable of vengeance and contrition."

"Each period in the film packs a seismic revelation; the ultimate one is both devastating and cleansing. A wise, beautifully acted parable of vengeance and contrition."