Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Atonement

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Atonement

Article excerpt

ATONEMENT Directed by Joe Wright (Focus Features, 2007)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Older Catholics may recall a story about the standard penance for gossip. "On a blustery day shake out the contents of a feather pillow from a high window. The next day collect every feather scattered across the landscape."

It cannot be done, of course, and in Joe Wright's translation of Ian McEwan's novel the young (and not-so-young) Briony Talis must watch helplessly as the unfolding consequences of her lie wreak havoc in the lives of her older sister, Cecilia, and the housekeeper's son, Robbie Turner. Besotted with a child's notions of romance, the precocious and naive 13-year-old playwright is shocked by her discovery of the adult passions Cecilia and Robbie have for one another. In a moment her knight has become a beast, and so when her young cousin reports a beastly sexual attack it is all too easy for Briony to cast Robbie in the role of savage predator.

Here is a tale that grabs her audience by the throat, shines a spotlight on her talents as master storyteller, and vents her unconscious rage at being slighted so by these older lovers. …

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