Atonement: Divine Retribution | Sunday Observer

Atonement: Divine Retribution

The film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s best-selling novel Atonement is directed by Joe Wright. It stars James McAvoy as Robbie Turner, Keira Knightley as Cecilia Tallis, Saoirse Ronan as thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis, Romola Garai as eighteen-year-old Briony Tallis and Vanessa Redgrave as the aged Briony Tallis, Harriet Walter as Emily Tallis, Juno Temple as Lola Quincey and Benedict Cumberbatch as Paul Marshall.

The film revolves around the lives of the Tallis family and it is in three parts which connects three time periods. It explores the themes of love, the destructive nature of evil, reparation for wrongdoing and divine retribution. It begins in the year 1935 in Surrey, England with the description of a Tallis family re-union where the siblings Cecilia, Leon and Briony meet again in their family mansion. Their cousins Lola, Jackson and Pierrot Quincey are staying with them during the summer vacation because their parents are separated and trying to finalise a divorce.

Robbie Turner is the son of the Tallis housekeeper Grace Turner whose husband abandoned the family several years ago. Robbie has a brilliant intellect and wins a scholarship to the local Grammar school and Cecilia’s father funds his higher education at Cambridge University, and Robbie’s formidable intellect and education enables him to rise above his poor beginnings. Robbie and Cecilia are in love and they look forward to sharing their life together. But their hopes are shattered by Lola who is diabolical, duplicitous, ruthless, manipulative and selfish. Lola influences the young and impressionable Briony to falsely accuse Robbie of a crime which he did not commit.

There is a stark similarity between Lola Quincey in Atonement and Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. Both Lola and Becky ruthlessly destroy the lives of innocent people and they are completely devoid of a conscience. Both Lola and Becky are driven by an iron will and self love.

The film is powerfully evocative and tells the story of Briony’s guilt and reparation for her wrongdoing. The evil Lola never repents for her sins of manipulating and influencing Briony to falsely accuse Robbie, because she is a ruthless sub-human.