BUT, then it started getting all of these amazing reviews and garnering a bunch of advance awards, so, I became a bandwagon jumper, and bought my ticket. Well, it is safe to say that Atonement was considerably better than I thought it would be.
The story involves three primary characters - Celia Tallis (Keira Knightley), a teen/young adult from a rich family, Robbie Turner (James McAvoy), one of the groundskeepers at the Tallis household, and Briony Tallis (played by multiple actors), Celia's younger sister, who has a talent for writing, and feelings for Robbie. Something has happened between Celia and Robbie, and, when Robbie tries to make it right, Briony realizes that his heart is for Celia, and not for her. Pierrot, Jackson, and Lola, the cousins of Celia and Briony, come to stay with the Tallis's, but their boredom and restlessness lead Pierrot and Jackson to run away. This leads to the evening's dinner party guests to have to break out and search the grounds for the young boys. Before they're found, though, Briony finds Lola being raped by a man who manages to get away before he can be identified. In her anger with Robbie, and his new found connection with Celia, she tells the police that she could positively identify Robbie as the rapist.
Robbie ends up going to jail, being torn apart from Celia, and causing Briony to retreat into herself. Fast forward a few years, and we meet Robbie, Celia, and Briony in the midst of World War 2. Robbie has been let out of prison to serve England, but is MIA in France, Celia hasn't seen her family in years and is working as a nurse, and Briony is training as a nurse, and is trying to get back in touch with Celia to put things right.
I can't really say anymore, otherwise too much of the plot would be given away, but, Atonement turned out to be a really well made, well acted film. There were several funny moments in it, which were surprising for this "sub-genre" of film, and the love story between Robbie and Celia was not completely un-original or cliche, though, the relationship between the three of them (Celia, Robbie, and Briony), can, at times, be a little cliche. The way the story is told, by telling Briony's version of certain events, and then showing a completely objective view of events was very interesting, and reiterates how subjective realities can destroy relationships and lives.
Atonement was well worth my two hours, especially at the matinee price. I'm not a huge fan of any of the actors in the film, but they all did a great job. The directing was superb, and the story, especially the last quarter of it, was very well written. Fantastic. And, you definitely want to see it on the big screen. Absolutely beautiful.