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Atonement

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Keira Knightley and James McAvoy star in this adaptation of Ian McEwan's best-selling novel about lies and betrayal ruining three lives, set just before and just after the outbreak of World War II. What begins looking like a stuffed-shirt movie about a veddy, veddy upper-class English family and its relationship with the college-educated son of the housekeeper turns into study of jealousy and the possibility of atonement for the lies of a child.

 

Director Joe Wright ("Pride & Prejudice") handles the beaches of Dunkirk with the same all-encompassing eye that sees bad behavior at a suffocating country estate. Christopher Hampton's script is a marvel of adaptation. How will the Oscar voters be able to choose between this and "No Country for Old Men"?

 

Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave and newcomer Saoirse Ronan all portray the lying girl at different ages, and for once, this stunt is perfectly acted. The narrative is twisted and you'll think for days about what you saw, or think you saw, or couldn't possibly have seen. R

 

"?Doug Bentin 

 

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