Archive for April 17th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(UK 2007 130m) DVD1/2

The story can resume

p  Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Paul Webster  d  Joe Wright  w  Christopher Hampton  novel  Ian McEwan  ph  Seamus McGarvey  ed  Paul Tothill  m  Dario Marianelli  art  Sarah Greenwood  cos  Jacqueline Durran

Keira Knightley (Cecilia Tallis), James McAvoy (Robbie Turner), Saoirse Ronan (Briony Tallis, aged 13), Romola Garai (Briony Tallis, aged 18), Brenda Blethyn (Grace Turner), Harriet Walter (Emily Tallis), Benedict Cumberbatch (Paul Marshall), Peter Wight (police inspector), Vanessa Redgrave (older Briony), Gina McKee (Sister Drummond), Anthony Minghella (interviewer), Juno Temple (Lola Quincey),

Joe Wright’s film of Ian McEwan’s wartime romance is a strange piece, somewhat out of place in the in-your-face gadgetry of the 21st century, an old-fashioned romantic drama of the type that had long since been deemed as old-fashioned or exclusively reserved for adaptations of classic Edwardian authors by Merchant Ivory.  In the last thirty or so years since David Lean withdrew into his shell following the critical battering of Ryan’s Daughter, one can only find one film sheltering under the same rarefied canopy; Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient.  Indeed, it can be seen as no coincidence that Minghella himself appears as the interviewer in the present day in the film’s much-discussed epilogue.  But hang on – epilogue? – we are getting ahead of ourselves…

            Late thirties England; Briony Tallis is a 13 year old wannabe writer of precocious gifts who, one summer, makes a dreadful mistake.  She misinterprets a scene in a fountain between her elder sister Cecilia and a young man, Robbie, who lives on the estate.  Briony has always liked Robbie – indeed she once had a crush on him – but when Robbie makes the mistake of sending the wrong letter to Cecilia and hands it to Briony to pass to her, Briony reads it beforehand and, after seeing Cecilia and Robbie making love in the library later that evening, armed with the letter’s content, she assumes Robbie was assaulting her.  Things are made worse when her young cousin, who is staying with them for the summer, gets sexually assaulted and Briony says she saw the attacker and blames it on Robbie.  Needless to say, things go from bad to worse. (more…)

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