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Book to Film: Atonement by Ian McEwan


The story starts off in summer 1935, a busy day for the Tallis household. Thirteen year old Briony Tallis is preparing for a play that she wrote herself to present to her brother. Briony then sees her older sister Cecilia and Robbie, son of the housekeeper, in a rather sexual situation which young Briony misinterprets.

An incident happens during the family's dinner party and one of her cousins, Lola, was discovered to be raped by an unknown assailant. Briony then accuses Robbie as the criminal. Though Robbie claims to be innocent, he is taken away to be imprisoned and this incident destroys the loving family that Briony has known.


I came across the film Atonement first, as one of the main characters is portrayed by one of my favorite actors, James McAvoy. A few days after watching the movie, I started the book hunt and found it in one of the local bookstores.

The movie is visually appealing, which was something I expected from the director Joe Wright who also directed Pride and Prejudice (2005).


Keira Knightley was really good in this film and she was able to portray Cecilia to life. However, it was James McAvoy (swoon!) who was able to grip my heart and I found myself teary-eyed with his subtle and powerful performance as Robbie Turner. (Look at those eyes!)



Another actress that was able to impress me was Saoirse Ronan, who played the thirteen year old Briony. The eighteen year old Briony, who was portrayed by Romola Garai, paled in comparison to the younger version. Vannessa Redgrave who portrayed the 77 year old Briony was also good, even with her short screentime.



The movie was just so breathtakingly beautiful, that I found myself in tears after watching the movie. This is one of the movie adaptations that I am happy with, because I felt that it did the book justice.



The book was divided into three parts - that day of the incident, during the war and the last part is the epilogue. The way Ian McEwan described the setting in his novel was amazing. His choice of words were very eloquent and beautiful.

The way that McEwan structured the novel was also good. Good, because that was really a plot twist that I didn't really see coming and also frustrating because that wasn't really an ending I desired for the couple who I just wanted to be together because they deserve the happiness they should have gotten.


The story tells us of the consequences that one single lie from a thirteen year old girl was able to create. There were so many times that I wanted to drag Briony out of the book and slap her myself. But there is some sort of understanding, to the actions she had done, as she was only human, a child - and her story of making up for the deeds she has done, her atonement, gave us this brilliant story that I will definitely recommend to everyone.


Title: Atonement

Author: Ian McEwan
Genre: Fiction
Published: 2001
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Rating: ♨♨♨♨ (4 cups)

Movie Title: Atonement

Director: Joe Wright
Cast: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Vannessa Redgrave, Benedict Cumberbatch
Release Date: 2007
Rating: ♨♨♨♨ (4 cups)

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