atonement

June 23, 2008

The good thing about having a memory like a goldfish is that the endings of film adaptations of books are always a (mildly familiar) surprise. This was the case both for the Kite Runner and the film I watched on my way to and from the Netherlands, Atonement. I won’t give away the shocker twist, but only because I had quite forgotten it until I saw the film. The question is always of course, which was better, book or film?

In this case I thought the cinematography in the film was beautiful and set the scene in pre-war Britain more evocatively than the book did. And of course James McAvoy and Keira Knightley (especially in this green dress) light up the screen just by being there, which does not hurt. But despite the visual advantage of film, the book was a better medium for the telling of the story. For me, the film was easier to absorb and enjoy, but didn’t move or disturb in the same way the book did. The epilogue/final scene is also a little more ambiguous in the book than in the film, though in both cases I found using grown-up Briony’s speech far too pat.

A delight to the eyes, but not the same food for the soul.

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