ATONEMENT (Joe Wright). 130 minutes. Opens Friday (December 7). Rating: NN
Atonement was made by the Pride And Prejudice team - director Joe Wright, star Keira Knightley, costume designer Jacqueline Durran, composer Dario Marianelli, production designer Sarah Greenwood and editor Paul Tothill - so we know these people are capable of making a period film.
Its story of love across class barriers, childhood betrayal and the war is a piece of high-toned Oscarbation, with Knightley as an upper-class girl in love with a likely local lad whom her father has educated. Her life is shattered when her younger sister projects a child's interpretation onto adult events mostly having to do with sex. Suddenly, it's the Second World War!
The film is too literary by half, with titles to locate us - "four years later, " "three weeks earlier"- and then a big reversal at the end to pull the tablecloth from beneath the crockery.
Seventy minutes in, you realize that director Wright's interest in the project was to pull off a monumental several-minutes-long shot that covers the evacuation of Dunkirk in full panic.
He's Brian De Palma with bigger literary pretensions.