O U T S I D E L E F T   stay i n d e p e n d e n t

And the Oscar goes to... Keira Knightley

Atonement is this summer's most highly anticipated British movie. One of our London correspondents has seen it already. Wait a minute, it's a 15 certificate should she have even been allowed in there...

get the weekly Outsideleft newsletter
by Ruby Lake, for outsideleft.com
originally published: August, 2007
James McAvoy sticks out his chin and Keira just pouts

I must be one of the only teenage girls in London that doesn't fancy Daniel Radcliffe and had no interest in a new Harry Potter - book or film. But there was one film that I had been looking forward to all summer.

Atonement is the new film by Joe Wright and reunites him with Keira Knightley after their award-winning adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

I had watched the trailer more times than I would care to admit to. Keira in her Lee Miller inspired green dress, the swimming hat. Watching that filled me with anticipation that maybe is slightly similar to those who were waiting on the new Potter.

Luckily I managed to get a ticket for a preview screening in London. The film was as good as I had hoped for and I'm sure will feature in awards ceremonies next year.

If you are going to tell me Keira can't act then you'd have to get to the back of a very long queue. Lindsay Lohan (or Lindsay Lowlife as she's known around here) had the nerve to call her a "cardboard cut-out of an actress". But in Atonement she is wonderful.

Director Joe Wright was in attendance at the screening and he answered a few questions about the performances in the film revealing how he worked for 3 weeks on rehearsals until he had identified the performers "tics" - things that they did when they weren't sure of themselves. Apparently James McAvoy sticks out his chin and Keira just pouts. That might explain her performances in the Pirates film. It was the director's fault for not telling her what to do and just letting her stand around as decoration.

The effort that Wright put in building rapport with the actors has resulted in some stunning performances. And though it was a relatively low budget film the team have paid attention to the little details like sound and costume and this mean each frame, especially in the early country house scenes, are filled with beautiful colours.

There is a now famous shot of the beaches of Dunkirk that Wright explains was filmed in one continuous shot. It is a clever piece of filming but the lack of incoming fire or plane attacks that the budget couldn't stretch to mean that there is no sense of danger or urgency in the scene and for me, it's a weak link in an otherwise excellent film.

Wright is now heading to Hollywood to make a film with Jamie Fox. Somebody asked if it was another period film and he joked that it was set in 2005 so yes it was another period drama.

see more stories from outsideleft's Screen archive »»

more stories you really could read...


thumb through the ancient archives:

search for something you might like...


sign up for the outsideleft weekly. a selection of new and archived stories every week. Or less.

View previous campaigns.

Editor's Notes 001
Top Ten Movie Architects
A countdown of the greatest films that use and abuse the idea of the architect.
Tinariwen's Sub Saharan Homesick Blues
Exiled from their Mali home, renowned nomads Tinariwen recorded their 7th album in the deserts of California, Morocco and Paris...
The Outsideleft Year in Music That Was
Jason's Top 30 LPs of 2017 in one succinct list...
Mad About the Boy
And The Sticker Really Does Smell Like Laundered Money
Chicago unleashes some of its more virulent cororate citezens in the grindcore of HeWhoCorrupts
Some of our favorite things...