Power of `Atonement'

Drama beautifully captures the consequences of a child's lie and a grownup's need to right the wrong

Review A

December 14, 2007|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

The magnificent Atonement, like Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour, depicts what Hellman called "the power of a lie." Then it ripples into a panorama that encompasses so much more. The meanness that ruins innocents and tears families apart seems to flow from the same evil that erupts into World War II. Yet through unexpected and cathartic twists, this movie leaves you with atonement and redemption.

The key action takes place during a single day in 1935. On a British estate, the crush of 13-year-old Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) for the housekeeper's Cambridge-educated son Robbie Turner (James McAvoy), and Briony's realization that he and her older sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley) are falling in love, catalyze a devastating accusation.

Atonement (Focus) Starring Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Romola Garai, Saoirse Ronan, Vanessa Redgrave. Directed by Joe Wright. Rated R. Time 116 minutes.

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