Sunday, March 09, 2008

What am I atoning for?

was what I was asking myself while sitting through the interminable film 'Atonement'. Jeeez!

It was my own fault for not checking it out better. I think I may have read the book(yes, in fact it's sitting there on my bookshelf, looking distinctly read) but obviously I blocked out stuff. Particularly the war stuff. I hate British and American war films; the British ones are all plucky Cockney subalterns caring for those above (or apparently above) their station, and having more common sense than their officers will ever have. If they are not that, it's the guys in the tavern/bistrot/Kneipe singing along to a chap with a banjo. (Music as social glue and all that). Large chunk of war scenes in this film. Not convinced that our chaps would include a rather large black guy - black yes, rather large, not sure. Also our hero walks along and then stands in front of a cinema screen while a film is running, and neither does he throw a shadow, nor does anyone shout at him for standing in the way? Not convinced, not one bit.

So the film (and book) is awf'lly English. Large country house, dippy and rather romantic young daughter of the family, who understands nothing, including how to walk gracefully (had she been watching too much Joyce Grenfell?), sees something, adds two and two together with her imagination and makes seven, and her sister's boyfriend ends up in prison before you can say 'Bob's yer uncle'. Eventually, she starts feeling guilty, by which time it's far too late.

McEwan, the writer, does lovely descriptions - but this does not translate well to film; it's far too langurous, and wallows in sentiment, cliche and self-pity. Like I did by the time it finally came to an end (self-pity that is). James McAvoy was wonderful, though. I see he's a Glasgow lad - I thought I had heard a wee Scottish burr....


klari said...

I totally agree! I'm still baffled that this film somehow got 14 BAFTA nods.

violainvilnius said...

Ah well, you know, English country house, even posh people have problem children, our boys fighting Jerry.....

pushes all the right buttons

Klari said...

Probably! Your explanation makes sense.

Yet, I've been feeling very lonely reading masses of enthousiastic critics about this movie. Even by people whose taste I (usually) respect. It was a relief to read yours!