DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Atonement, Blu-ray (2007/2010)

This beautifully-constructed film has the air of a true classic from its very first scene.

Published on January 28, 2010

Atonement, Blu-ray (2007/2010)

Atonement, Blu-ray (2007/2010)

Starring: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Vanessa Redgrave
Studio: Focus Features/Universal  61112004 [1/26/10]
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 color, 1080p HD
Audio: English & French DTS-HD Master Audio 5l1., French or Spanish DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Feature commentary by director Joe Wright, Deleted scenes, “The Making of Atonement.” “From Novel to Screen: Adapting a Classic,” BD Live 2.0
Length: 2 hours 3 minutes
Rating: *****

This beautifully-constructed film has the air of a true classic from its very first scene – something in the general style of Merchant Ivory but with even more affecting drama and depth.  The director of Pride & Prejudice returned with a film of even greater achievement – an epic story of love and betrayal. It has an all-star cast, shooting the English gentry scenes at a gorgeous country estate, and the war scenes with a gritty and unsettling realism.

Keira Knightley is again featured in another Joe Wright film, playing the older sister, whose younger sister sees her in two situations with a childhood friend she loves, and misunderstands their import so completely that she later tells a lie about the young man that ruins his life and the couple’s relationship. The miscreant younger sister is shown at two other points in her life, as she deals with making atonement for the terrible thing she had done. Both she and her older sister work as nurses during WWII, and the film concludes with part of a TV interview with the elderly woman author, who has finally written a novel in which she reveals her deed and brings together in the story her sister and her soldier lover. The war scenes at Dunkirk use a thousand extras and are very moving and realistic. James McAvoy’s believable acting shows he was deeply affected by the drama of the story, which closely follows the book by Ian McEwan.

The cinematography is perfect for each scene, the Blu-ray transfer looks crisp and glowing with color when appropriate, and the original music – with a haunting main theme – serves the emotional tones of the film most successfully.  The two documentaries in the extras are well worth viewing.

 – John Sunier

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