Nothing in Joe Wright's screen version of Ian McEwan's dense, internalized 2001 novel of secrets and lies should really work, but damn near everything does. It's some kind of miracle. Written, directed and acted to perfection, Atonement sweeps you up on waves of humor, heartbreak and ravishing romance.
Rarely has a book sprung so vividly to life, but also worked so enthrallingly in pure movie terms, as with Atonement, Brit helmer Joe Wright’s smart, dazzlingly upholstered adaptation of Ian McEwan’s celebrated 2001 novel.
Gorgeous cinematography, a lilting score and near-faultless performances, under Wright’s assured direction, make this the first contender for next year’s Best Picture Oscar.
Wright wouldn't recognize unobtrusive if it tapped him on the nose--he's cross- pollinated the first half of Atonement into an Oscar-buzzy brew of Masterpiece Theatre and "Upstairs, Downstairs," with the wild English countryside tamed into an artfully lit fairy glade, and into just enough of a bodice-ripper to reel in the youth market. And not a bad one at that.