…the movie, not the book.
If there’s choosing between a movie and a book, I usually advise reading the book first – but it doesn’t mean that I take my own advice. A lot of the good movies these days are made after books and I think this, if nothing else, shows the continuous necessity of literature – I realise it sounds slightly dim, but there are a lot more movie fans than avid readers, so I expect this little comment would appeal to them.
Anyway, I saw the movie, but I haven’t read the book. I loved the movie so much, that i don’t think I’m ever gonna read the book – and this is not how it’s supposed to be. I refused to see Joe Wright’s earlier “Pride and Prejudice” for 2 reasons: 1. I really don’t like Keira Knightley and 2. There is only one “Pride and Prejudice” for me – this. But this time, there was too much fuss, and too many promises, so I couldn’t stay away – and it paid off. 🙂
The story reminds me somehow of the basic principles of a Greek tragedy – the hand of destiny which you cannot foresee and against whom there’s no fighting, and also a late, fictional…atonement. It all starts in a hot summer of 1930-something, when young, imaginative Briony (Saoirse Ronan) sees her sister, Cecilia (Knightley) and the gardener Robbie (the always lovely James McAvoy) engaged in some kind of flirtation, and later on, in sex. Driven half by jealousy, half by her innocent, yet “playwright-wannabe” mind, Briony accuses Robbie of molestation, he goes to jail, and ends up fighting in WW II, while Cecilia ends up as a nurse. They meet again briefly during the war, they rekindle their romance, but in the end they both die, Robbie one day before being sent home, Cecilia drowning in a subway tunnel (yes, drowns, it’s not a typo).
Remorse takes control of Briony’s life as she grows and realises the injustice and the consequences of her actions; the movie ends with her (played by Vanessa Redgrave) being interviewed, a highly acclaimed writer in old age, about her latest book (and it turns out, her last) which features the story of her sister and Robbie – and also an alternate ending.
As much as I don’t like Keira (have I mentioned that before? 😉 ), her smug expression is perfect for Cecilia, and James M. is great in every second of the movie, but the best scene doesn’t really feature any of them (or as least, does not have them at the center). The one scene that made the hairs on my back stand on end, is when Robbie arrives at the beach and searches around for someone, or something, he searches, and he walks amongst the remains of a ship, its crew, and many other soldiers, he walks amongst pain, and despair, and utter madness….he climbs a hill, and the camera scans the entire beach, and you see all these human-ants fussing about…. – I know it doesn’t sound like much when I explain it, but you’ll know it when you’ll see it.
A five star movie, as far as I’m concerned, and one of this years’ must-sees…and next time, also something to do with Mr. McEwan 😉
PS or something: Since I’m on the movies vs books topic, I am soooo getting this when it’s reprinted!!!
MUCH LATER EDIT: It was reprinted…I orderd it, I paid for it…I put all my faith in the hands of the good folk here. (Last time I did that was on Oct 29th and I’m still waiting for my sheep-tee)