Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I'm always intrigued when film projects go badly wrong. So much money and talent is involved in any big movie that one would expect gross error to be eliminated. The gross error in Joe Wright's film of Ian McEwan's novel Atonement is that it has the wrong director. Whatever else it is, Atonement is a great story but Wright is not interested in stories, he's interested in images and spectacle. The most egregious example is when our hero struggles up a sand-dune at Dunkirk - and how many time have you see this shot before? - suddenly sees thousands of men on the beaches. Then follows a tracking shot lasting several minutes and costing, I would guess, hundreds of thousands if not millions, showing what's going on among the soldiers. It's derivative, juvenile and nothing to do with Atonement. Think what Almodovar would have made of this moment. Maybe this doesn't matter. The film has received some good reviews. Sukhdev Sandhu in the Telegraph is ecstatic. But then the other intriguing thing about the film industry is the warped minds of film critics. Incidentally, all the stuff about the acting - especially Keira Knightley's - is nonsense. The only acting in the film happens in the last five minutes when Vanessa Redgrave appears and, in a sudden attack of good sense, Wright just points the camera at her. For the first time the story mattered.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:09 am