Atonement | Teen Ink


January 14, 2008
By Anonymous

The sound of typing can be heard, its keys being struck furiously. The camera pans to a room, revealing a young girl with short blonde hair. Her hands move across the keys, concentrating with the most utter discipline and elegance. As if every letter was performed with purpose. The noise stops suddenly. Her breath is thin as she looks wide-eyed at the piece before her eyes. Quickly, she gathers up all of the pages and runs down the hallway in search of her mother. Briony has just finished her first play.
The film takes place in England in 1935, at a handsome manor, illustrating a picture of wealth and prosperity. Joe Wright, director of Pride and Prejudice, shows us the same wonder in nature. We journey with Briony Talice through the tunnel of vines and flowers at her home’s garden, and all seems surreal as we experience the feelings of an imaginary world through the eyes of a child. In this movie the constructs of love, truth, war, and very human nature are all illustrated in a way that makes us rethink our lives. After its end we are left with more than just a black screen, but the feeling that we need to make the most of our time, even if that means being honest beyond our own heart’s wishes.
No perfect world is meant to last, and in this movie, we see that world come crashing down. Talks of war and Hitler, and Germany are addressed in conversations between friends and Briony’s sister, Cecelia, played by Keira Knightly. Also, Briony has witnessed from her window a scene all too unreal. She sees Cecilia undressing in front of Robbie Turner, the family gardener, and then jumping into the nearby fountain. Robbie also gives Briony a letter to Cecilia, in which he hopes to explain his hidden affections for after seeing her nearly naked. Instead, terribly, Robbie handed Briony the wrong letter by mistake. A letter no one was supposed to read, especially Cecilia. The letter tells all about his burning sexual desires for her, and uses a word which by any regards is considered indecent. To make matters worse, that evening Briony, driven by her curiosity, moves into the study where she finds Cecilia and Robbie pressed against the bookcase, no doubt at the height of sexual conduct. These events are what lead Briony to wrongly tell police that Robbie has raped her cousin, Lola, that very same night. She claims she saw Robbie do it with her very eyes. A scene unfolds, the police are called and Robbie is taken away. All that is left behind are the tears in Cecilia’s eyes, one of the few to know of Robbie’s innocence.
Time passes by and the future is plagued by war. Robbie, now facing punishment, is a soldier. He faces extreme danger, sickness and both heartache and anger. Briony realizes she has to set things straight, but has done so too late. Both her sister and Robbie are killed by the war. They are never to be together, or live another day again.
Briony finishes her life with the completion of the book Atonement. It tells us what she has done, and all that has been lost during her lifetime. Her ending of the book allows Robbie and Cecilia to forever live in happiness. The ending allows her to escape her own atonement, one that could only be driven by a young girl and her mind.

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