Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.


Atonement Movie Poster

Four and a Half out of Five Stars
Genre: Drama/Romance
Rated: R
Directed by:
Joe Wright
Starring: Keira Knightley, James McAvoy,
Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Brenda Blethyn
Released by: Focus Features

In Short: This beautifully told tale of a young teen's lie and its terrible ramifications is set against the backdrop of World War II England; it is sure to become a much-awarded Hollywood classic.

A Tragic Mistake
An Unforgettable Film

by Jenny Peters

Something special happens when director Joe Wright and actress Keira Knightley team up. It happened for the first time in 2005 with “Pride and Prejudice”; now, with “Atonement,” the pair, along with actors James McAvoy, Romola Garai, and the amazing young teenager Saoirse Ronan, have fashioned a film that is beautiful, heartbreaking, and unforgettable.

The story begins on a massive English estate in the summer 1935, as wealthy sisters Cecelia and Briony Tallis (Knightley and Ronan) are whiling away the hot summer days, both secretly harboring a love for Robbie (McAvoy), the cook’s son who has lived on the property since they were all children. One night an incident happens that irrevocably changes all their lives, after Briony makes a very bad decision and tells a terrible lie.

Saoirse Ronan and James McAvoy in Atonement
Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in Atonement

As the years pass and Britain enters into World War II, all three are swept into the fight. And all the while, Briony (now an 18-year-old nurse, played by Garai) struggles to atone for the awful lie she told, as her whole world seems to crumble around her.

"Atonement" will grab hold of your heart and squeeze, with its impeccable combination of gorgeous and horrific images, top-notch acting (look for Oscar nominations for both Knightley and McAvoy), and perfect pacing. Director Joe Wright deserves a nomination as well, for he has fashioned a movie that will appeal equally to both men and women, and is sure to stand the test of time and take its place as a true classic of the art form.

Oh, and make sure you take tissues to the theater. You will need them.

(Updated 07/31/12 BH)

The kinds of movies made for foodies, including classics such as Like Water for Chocolate and newer releases like Chef and Ratatouille.

Summer is here! Protect your skin from harmful UV rays all year round with GAYOT's Top 10 Sunscreens.