A booby-trapped tale of wartime love and guilt, adapted from the great Ian McEwan, who has been mining the darker recesses of desire since First Love, Last Rites (1975). Joe Wright directs an excellent cast — Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave, and newcomer Saoirse Ronan — in what begins like a standard period piece but ends up transcending the format with a sharp-eyed inquiry into the power of fiction to destroy and redeem; I haven’t been able to get this movie out of my head. Atonement opens on December 7; if you haven’t read the novel, I highly recommend staying spoiler-free.
Atonement. Joe Wright, 2007. ****
Instead of the spoilerish trailer for Atonement, here’s a clip from Andrew Birkin’s 1993 movie based on McEwan’s The Cement Garden, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg: