In preparation for the announcement of this year’s Oscar nominees on Tuesday, PJ and I saw Atonement today. As with 2005’s Pride and Prejudice, director Joe Wright has crafted a beautiful adaptation of a much loved novel. This time, Keira Knightley, is joined by James McAvoy, Brenda Blethyn, and Vanessa Redgrave. Here’s the trailer:

McAvoy plays Robbie Turner, the son of the housekeeper to the wealthy Tallis family. Having won a scholarship to school, Turner then went to Cambridge at the Tallises’s expense. While this beneficence is admirable, the family’s true colors come out when Robbie is accused of a terrible crime by Briony, the youngest Tallis daughter.

Briony is played by Saoirse Ronan, who does any amazing job as the precocious girl who mistakenly thinks she understands the adult relationships around her. The first act follows Briony’s rather fractured witnessing of three separate events, which leads her to conclude that Robbie is a “sex maniac,” as she tells another character. This conclusion leads to her accusation against him. Five years later, she has a completely different reading of these puzzle pieces, one that forces her to confront her previous actions and at least attempt to atone for them.

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