It is with some pride that I can finally say that I have now seen all five Best Picture Academy Award Nominees for 2007, thanks to a Saturday evening viewing of Atonement. On the other hand, the predominant emotion taken away from this film was sadness, a film where just about each and every character meets a dismal or depressing end thanks to the interference of a adolescent self-righteous know-it-all.I'm sure I am exaggerating my reaction to the character, but let's be frank about this: if it wasn't for her nosiness, combined with her prying into other peoples' personal items (at least twice), combined with her presumption of guilt clouding her memory, combined with her feckless crush, combined with her need to feel important, then perhaps things would have turned out better. But they didn't, and she is entirely to blame. Do I feel empathy that she clearly carried her guilt with her for the rest of her (successful writer) life? Any that I would have felt is assuaged by the fact that even years later when she figured out the truth and realized for certain (she likely guessed that she was wrong minutes after the 'guilty' was taken away based on circumstances) she had wrongly accused an innocent man, she STILL didn't have the courage to do anything about it. So, she writes a book about it all where she can give them a happy ending instead of the harsh truth of what she had done. I admit I teared up in that moment, at the very end, but otherwise no, I give no pity points.
So, aside from filming the most depressing movie in recent memory (though we watched it Saturday evening, we had as much inspiration to go out and be social afterward as after watching 'Saving Private Ryan'), the movie WAS beautifully shot and interestingly framed, with juxaposing timelines to show what the main character saw versus the whole story. That all said, this film wasn't nearly as good as Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood, or No Country for Old Men. (I have already stated my reasons for not including Juno on this list.) Of them all, and this isn't saying much, Michael Clayton is easily the most 'upbeat' film. Talk about a list of intense films.
So, I recommend you see Atonement if you are irrationally cheerful.