Has anybody else seen this film? I watched it well over a year ago, and I've been meaning to blog about it, give my thoughts, but to be honest, I was so disturbed by it, it's taken some time to work through how I felt.
First impression - good movie. Great story line. Strong characters. Excellent plot.
Second impression - hard to sleep for about a week afterward.
If you haven't seen it, do look away now. I'm going to post some plot stuff that you may not want to read about.
The story is about a young girl, 11 or 12 maybe, named Briony who tells a lie. The lie snowballs out of her control and a young man is sent to jail, her sister loses her love, and then the young man is shipped off to war. Briony essentially ruins not only her sister's and the young man's life, but also her own because of the guilt that consumes her over however many years she keeps the secret.
I think the hardest part of the whole thing, besides the really harsh, raw edges of the film's story and storytelling is how introspective the film is. Every, single one of us has told a lie or a fib. Maybe not as big of a lie as Briony tells, but a lie nonetheless. It's the whole butterfly causing a tsunami paradigm, and that one cannot possibly predict how a story will affect others.
The whole story is told from the viewpoint of Briony, first as a young girl, then a young woman, and finally an old lady. The depth of the movie comes not from the other characters themselves, because they are really quite static and perfect in a lot of ways, but from the way reality twists and fades into myth in Briony's mind and therefore her story. For example, the male lead, Robbie, played by James McAvoy, is too perfect. He is what Briony has made him in her mind through regret. Despite the ubiquitous and rather shocking use of the C-word (which, if I remember correctly, made me drop a stitch on some rather finicky lace), and a very vigorous trist between him and the female lead, Cecilia, played by Keira Knightley, he does nothing wrong. He is a saint.
(As an aside, when I Googled the correct spelling of Keira Knightley's name, there were some rather disturbing photoshops. Since when does she have boobs?)
Cecilia is less of a saint, but still perfect nonetheless. Stoical and strong, she's portrayed in the film as very little girl would view an older sister, I imagine. I wouldn't know for sure, of course, seeing as I am an older sister to a younger brother.
The movie didn't fall short for me, although I would be hesitant to watch it again, simply for the disturbing factor. The acting was top notch, with the main focal points being young Briony, played by Saoirse Ronan (who was brilliant, by the way), and James McAvoy's character, Robbie. Knightley...I'm not her biggest fan, but she brought a lot to the character.
So, overall, four-and-a-half stars, with half a star docked for disrupting my sleep.