Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Atonement: Worse Than Juno

I don't think I've ever cared less about the Oscars than I do this year. Let's take a look at the Best Picture nominees:

Michael Clayton: I didn't see it, and won't after hearing from numerous sources that it wasn't that good and had an awful ending. My take is that Hollywood just loves George Clooney because of all of the political stuff he's getting into, so they always nominate him and his movies if they are even remotely good. I do like George Clooney, but from what I've heard this movie is by far the worst of the nominees.

No Country For Old Men: Too violent for me to see.

There Will Be Blood: Too violent for me to see.

: I liked it, but there is no way this movie would be Oscar caliber in any other year. Even those of you who loved it must admit this.

Atonement: It is definitely an "Oscar-y" type of movie, but I liked it less than Juno.

For the record, my husband has seen all of the movies above except Michael Clayton, and his favorite is There Will Be Blood. He said it's the one that has stuck with him the most, and he said he thought Daniel Day-Lewis should win Best Actor. Which he probably will, since he won Best Actor in the SAG awards, often considered to be a predictor of the Oscars.

We saw Atonement yesterday, and I liked it less than I thought I would. I left the movie thinking, "I bet I would've really liked this book." But it was way too long and dragging for me as a movie. Here is my assessment of its positives and negatives... and please know that since I never include spoilers, it's going to be tough for me to say anything of substance, since the best parts of this movie were the twists I wasn't expecting.

Things That Were Bad:

- As we all know, I don't like evil little kids. I also don't like war movies. Atonement had both an evil little kid (though the kid wasn't really little, which helped me be less afraid) and a focus on World War II. There were way more war scenes than I would've ever imagined there would be. While they weren't necessarily combat sequences, they were depressing nonetheless.
- Keira Knightley's bones. I do think she is beautiful and I do think she is a great actress, but girlfriend needs to either cover up her top half more or wear a scarf or something, because I was feeling ill staring at her protruding neck and collarbones.
- The length. This movie would've been absolutely awesome if it were 30 to 40 minutes shorter. Too many of the scenes were drawn out to the point where I was wondering when in the hell it was going to end. You should not be conscious of how long a movie is when you're watching it.
- The mushy love story theme. Sorry, that's just not how I roll! All the "I love you, I love you!" crap I could not deal with. Maybe I was just jealous of Keira Knightley, because...

Things That Were Good:

- The main actor, James McAvoy, was like Ryan from The OC mixed with Ed Norton, with a little dash of Russell Crowe thrown in for good measure. Me likey.
- The time-jumping. It's not ruining anything to say that the movie fills in the details of its characters' lives by jumping around in time a bit, slowly revealing the full scope of "what happened." I am always a sucker for this story-telling device.
- The parts that were good were really, really good. It was only when certain scenes overstayed their welcome that I got anxious.
- There are twists that I did not see coming.

Those who have read the book, along with reviews I have read, say that the movie is almost completely faithful to the novel. I remember with the first Harry Potter movie, that's what people said, too. Those who had read HP1 were relieved that the movie didn't stray, whereas those who hadn't read it thought the movie was too plodding and long. I have a feeling that the same thing is going on with Atonement. The movie most likely would've benefited from cutting out or shortening some scenes.

Overall, I did like it, but I liked Juno better. I never wondered what time it was during Juno, at least. I was too busy crying!

- e


Anonymous said...

You are dead-on with "trout-pout". That's the main thing that drives me nuts about her. But now I kinda want to see this...

Anonymous said...

I agree with your review... in fact I just made so many similar points to my husband after we saw it. I wish I had read the book first as well! I wonder if "the academy" read it and thats why it's nominated. No, it's probably b/c of the way it is shot... artsy and draggy... kind of like English Patient.

Anonymous said...

Hi E, I read this book and the writing was good, but I hated the little girl Briony, and most of the book is from her point of view, then there was a long drawn out war sequence in it, beautifully descriptive by the author, but it just didn't have a huge affect on me. I felt cheated that there was this huge build up to a reunion between Cecelia and Robbie, and the writer just sort of left that part out. Of course when we do see them together next in the book it's from Briony's POV. Just really annoyed me. then we get her some years later lamenting on what had happened and she summarizes it through her eyes. I didn't like the ending.

Anonymous said...

Atonement looked and felt a lot like Pride and Prejudice, Come to think of it, both movies have the same director, leading lady and both are based on books…

Anonymous said...

hi e.....just finished Atonement and agree with your assessment, except the length,as I was riveted to each moment anticipating the next. However, I watched the out-takes afterwards, and this flick could have been MUCH longer !!! Vanessa Redgraves is one of my favorite actresses, she sure looked old in this (at 77). But I guess when a person allows the guilt to be carried over 60 years anyone would look old ! Auntie MA