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maestrowork
12-22-2007, 02:16 AM
A thread to discuss the film, the book, or both.

To me, what's astonishing (yes, it's a gorgeous film) is the theme on writing. Even the score reminds you this is a film about writing: the tapping of typewriter keys. Key scenes were told from multiple POVs. The main story is about a young girl who lets her imagination get the best of her. And of course, there's the ending. In some way, we writers all talk about this kind of endings -- pros and cons. Personally, I think this works marvelously especially in the context of the themes and story. The power of WORDS. It's devastating.

The book is scrumptious but long on descriptions and exposition. It's not to say there's all tell but no show, but definitely, the emphasis is on the language and character studies. It's literary. I think the film is a very good adaptation but stands alone as a marvelous film. Is it the best film of the year? I can't say -- probably not. But definitely something I truly enjoy and am really touched by as a writer.

billythrilly7th
12-22-2007, 02:40 AM
Does Keira Knightley get naked?

Toothpaste
12-22-2007, 03:04 AM
No she doesn't. There is a very steamy sex scene nonetheless.

I loved this movie. It was beautiful and the performances were shockingly good (especially the 13 yearold). Oddly I don't think I am a fan of the story itself (although I loved the first section pre-WWII), but this is one of those few instances where it didn't matter to me.

James McAvoy so is my new crush!

katiemac
12-22-2007, 03:20 AM
I agree with Toothpaste. I had a lot of trouble getting into the novel (I'm having a similiar problem with Saturday), and I'm just not a big fan of the story. I had a bit of trouble when they jumped to 1993, but that's probably more me than anything -- if I'm stuck in a certain time period, I resent a switch to more modern times.

That being said, it was one of the nicest-shot films I've seen in a long time. The cinematography was beautifully done, the score was amazing (not just the typewriter, but all kinds of sound effects found their way into the music), and James McAvoy acted wonderfully. The POV swaps were nicely done and not confusing, and I loved the backtracking bit when Robbie realized which version of the note he'd handed to Briony.

maestrowork
12-22-2007, 03:48 AM
The POV swaps were nicely done and not confusing, and I loved the backtracking bit when Robbie realized which version of the note he'd handed to Briony.

Yup. It's very clear in the book with just a line or two, but hard to film. I think they did a great job in revealing how he realized the mistake.

I'm not completely in love with the story either -- I think it's rather cerebral and somewhat implausible, and in a way detached. However, the production and acting were wonderful. James McAvoy is just awesome -- so much emotion with so little said. Most of the plot is in the first half at the house in 1935, but I find the second act (the war scenes) very poignant and sad. The third act is the weakest and I, too, find the time warp a bit jarring.

I kept thinking about the film... in some ways it really affected me. Like I said, I don't know if it's the best film of the year, but definitely one of the best for me.

Will Lavender
12-22-2007, 04:18 AM
I haven't seen the film yet, but I am definitely going to.

Re: the book.

As I said in another thread, I found the voice at the beginning totally implausible. I can't remember how young the MC is, but I do know that she is a fairly young child. And that's the problem: the language she uses and the complexity of her thought just threw me way out of the story. I've even seen McCewan address this point; his answer was, "I was a smart child, and I think smart children talk and think that way." (Not a direct quote, obviously.)

I don't know. I have young children, and my wife has a massive family with a lot of kids, and I don't know one child who thinks on such a complex level. To me, it's a bit pretentious and more than a bit creepy. (Yes, I said "creepy.")

Still, I look forward to seeing the movie. I love beautifully made films, even if the stories they tell might not be entirely novel.

maestrowork
12-22-2007, 04:38 AM
Will, I am not sure... I find Briony's dialogue perfectly fine for an educated, privileged child like her in the 1930s. When I was 13 I thought rather deeply and complex as well -- and my "pretentious" writing would be a proof of that. So I didn't find her imagination or thought process too out of place -- like Cecilia said of her: Briony is a fantasist. I see her as driven by complicated emotions: a crush on Robbie, jealousy, and a true wish to protect her sister. Whatever she doesn't understand, she uses her imagination to fill the gap. In the book, she's on the cusp of being a woman, and that day is the turning point for her -- she abandons the childish play and ventures into adulthood, without fully understanding what it means.

As for the narration, it's in omniscient so it's not her voice, but the narrator's (which could have been the older Briony, who is a novelist).

I do find McEwan's long stretches of exposition and descriptions a bit off putting at times. Sometimes there were pages and pages with nothing happening. Sort of the things we always warn writers not to do. But McEwan is a wonderful writer and his lyrical prose compensates for that. Still, it's not an easy book to like. But the war scenes were extremely well written, I think.

Will Lavender
12-22-2007, 04:49 AM
As for the narration, it's in omniscient so it's not her voice, but the narrator's (which could have been the older Briony, who is a novelist).

Because it's omniscient, though, we get the flow of her thoughts. (Unless I'm totally misremembering. It's been a few years.) This, perhaps even more than her speech, is what threw me off.

Maybe "pretentious" isn't the right word. I don't mind pretentious narration if the setting suits it; in fact, my novels have quite a bit of intentional prentention in them, as they all have academic settings. "Implausible" may be a better term.

It's a funny thing, I realize, and I usually don't get caught up in tiny little details. I know my editor raved about the book recently (as have so many people), and obviously we have fairly similar tastes. I just...I don't know. Maybe if I didn't have children myself and didn't have to interact with them day after day after day, I wouldn't find the voice so irritatingly uncanny. (I wonder if McCewan has children?)

maestrowork
12-22-2007, 04:57 AM
Hmmm... it's in omniscient so I take it as completely the narrator's voice and not Briony's, especially since the narrator moves through different characters. Even as her thoughts were observed, it's still told from the narrator's voice. At least that's how I read it. Had it been in 3rd limited I would have thought it's too "sophisticated" for her. But since it's actually McEwan's voice telling the story (or maybe an older Briony telling the story), I find it perfectly acceptable.

Anyway, that "nit" is reduced in the film. It does a good job presenting Briony's POV as well as what the truth really is. The time juxtapositions could be a bit jarring at first but I found them very effective.

kellysarah
12-23-2007, 03:56 AM
Not read the book yet, it's on my to-read list, but I adored the film. That one long shot across the beach at Dunkirk just took my breath away, I was there with them. James McAvoy was just brilliant, he conveys so much and he doesn't overact it. I'm not a Keira fan, but I thought she too was excellent in this film, as was the actress who played the sister. Definitely a must-see!

maestrowork
12-23-2007, 05:09 AM
Some people criticize that the second and third acts have no plot... I tend to agree, but at the same time, I don't find it boring -- the last two acts are the aftermath of the first act and I find it just heart-wrenching. In fact I find the "plot" in the first act a bit contrived but still riveting just because of the tragedy of errors.

RubyRoo
01-04-2008, 10:31 PM
I love this book! I read it a couple of days ago before going onto Kiterunner, because I had seen the film (which I also loved).

What surprised me most, because this is adapted from a book, is how true to the characters the portrayals came. What made me even more immpressed, was when I saw an article saying that the girl who played Briony, who was is only thirteen, had had the book deemed inappropriate for her to read. The character was so well done and unforced, unlike other child actors trying for serious roles, I was so happy when I saw her nomination for best supporting actress!...Nearly as happy as when I saw James Nesbit had one for jekyll... but that is another obsession :P

maestrowork
01-14-2008, 07:29 AM
Congrats to Atonement for winning the Golden Globes Best Drama.

aruna
03-02-2008, 10:13 PM
Just wanted to say that I read the book this week, just saw the film, and will be back to discuss soon.
Also that I agree 100% with Ray, but have some points I need to get into.
Also those beach scenes at the end of the film: THAT IS WHERE I LIVE! I go there just about every day!

aruna
03-03-2008, 12:26 PM
OK, here goes.
Like Ray, I found the book a bit heavy going but well written.
I do find McEwan's long stretches of exposition and descriptions a bit off putting at times. Sometimes there were pages and pages with nothing happening. Sort of the things we always warn writers not to do. But McEwan is a wonderful writer and his lyrical prose compensates for that. Still, it's not an easy book to like. But the war scenes were extremely well written, I think.
__________________
I think I only kept going in the first part because I wanted to find out what Briony's crime was, and it took AGES to come. At the end of the book I felt cheated by the final disclosure. It was like a novel where you find out it was all a dream. A huge let down.

That changed when I saw the movie. That dealt with the novel in a novel theme in a much neater and more convincing way, much kinder to the reader/viewer. I loved the clackety clack of the keyboard i the background, especially as now I knew what it meant. I also found the film explained some things far better. For instance, in the book Cee says that they can't have Robbie's "crime" legally overturned because Briony would be an unreliable witness... that;s the only explanation. The movie delivers a far better explanation: Lola and Paul are now married, which means a) she can't be a witness, and also that it was obviously "consensual".

What irked me the most in both movie and film is the omission of the trial. I just cannot believe that Robbie would have been convicted on such flimsy evidence. Didn't he have a lawyer? What was his story? Since he found the boys it is hardly likely that he would first rape the girl then, having been discovered, dash off to look for the missing children. Britain has a good judicial system and this part just did not ring true to me. It seems to me he was found guilty simply to suit the story.

In the book, the war parts are great but I kept asking myself, what is the point of this? Most of that section, if not all of it, could have been omitted. Enough top know Robbie HAD been a soldier. His adventures over there had no meaning to the story whatsoever. Part three, Briony as nurse, was also interesting yet superfluous.

Actually, I adore wartime love stories but really, thee two parts did nothing at all to advance the plot. They merely showed how the two of them passed the time. More important would have been the trial; obviously some kind of class bias was the reason for Robbie's conviction and that would have been more pertinent to the story.

In spite of everything, I loved the movie; the novel, for me, was just so-so.