Thursday, February 21, 2008

Oscar Preview: Atonement the Unwatchable

In my quest to review all of the Oscar nominees, I wanted to view Atonement. Alas, I was rebuffed. I have, on occasion, seen films by myself. I knew I wasn't going to find a companion to watch The Hours, for example. But there is something utterly depressing about the notion of seeing a romantic film by one's self, especially when said self is MARRIED, that I simply could not subject myself to the indignity.

To be fair, Atonement has a lot of things going against it. It is a war movie, thus alienating the average woman (a cultural subset that happens to include my wife), but it is also a romance, meaning it has no appeal to a male. To my knowledge, I don't have any gay friends, so I was really behind the eight ball on this one.

Compounding matters is the presence of Keira Knightley, who, to my surprise, is the most reviled actress in the history of cinema. Mentioning her name at a dinner party is like making a racist political comment. Everyone sort of nods in feigned agreement, swirls their drink a bit, and tries to avoid eye contact. Keira Knightley is the peach sparkling water of cinema.

Knightley is sort of the new Gwyneth Paltrow, but less exotic and not talented. So we have a romantic war movie with a title possessing one word which conveys almost no meaning. Worse, the film was marketed as a coquettish costume drama. So even for those who can look past the subject matter (did I mention this is a tragic romantic war movie?), there is the whole issue of whether one is in the mood to invest their own hard earned dollars to watch one of those movies.

The filmmakers could have at least taken a cue from the Weinstein clan and cast Johnny Depp, or even one of the Fiennes' to lure the women. Instead, we get Brenda Blethyn, veteran of British charm pictures.

Oh, and the film is told in flashbacks. Thanks for that.

So, yeah, nobody wanted to see it with me, and I will probably die without having seen it, which is sad because it is probably a great movie. Without any further adieu, here is my somewhat uninformed review:

Atonement is about the redemptive human spirit, and the limitations thereof. Keira Knightley surprises with a nuanced performance, and my God aren't typewriters symbolic? This is an eipc drama for the ages. Kudos to the costume designers, I'm off to drink Pabst and see about a squirrel.


Blogger Grundi said...

If it wasn't ridiculously inappropriate to see a romantic movie (or really any type of movie) with another married man, I'd see it with you. I'm reading the novel now.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

When it comes out on DVD, we'll do a double date. I'll tell Khris that you guys are picking the movie. You can tell Tim that Khris likes Keira Knightley, and that its got war scenes.

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really don't need to see it. I saw this movie alone and while sometimes it was cinematically beautiful and the music went well, it really had no climax and was far too long. We all know that something that lasts 2.5 hours long and has no climax is hardly worth paying $9.00 for.

P.S. I hate Keira Knightley.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I ws mildly interested in seeing the movie but not interested enough to have seen it yet.

I don't mind Keira Knightly. She was good in the first "Pirates" movie but after that nothing jumps out at me- not even "Pride and Prejudice".

Your review of Michael Clayton piqued my interest to see it.

Maybe I'll wait for the DVD to come out on this one though.

And what is with people not going to movies alone? When did that become a social stigma?

90% of the time I go to movies alone. It doesn't bother me a bit....not like you're going to talk during a movie. You go watch it and leave.

One of the few benefits to going with someone is to have a discourse after.

I also really like war movies. Does this make me not an average woman?

3:22 PM  
OpenID thomwade said...

"And what is with people not going to movies alone? When did that become a social stigma?"

Since...uh...the dawn of time. I mean, those kids selling you the popcorn? They are all laughing at you after you leave. That's why I rent. Noone can tell you are renting the movie to watch it by yourself. Well, they do assume that is the case if you get a movie that looks like it belongs on after hours cable...but not for classier stuff like Sci-Fi Pictures Originals.

11:47 AM  

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