Friday, September 14, 2007

Nina and Sal go to the flicks

... and guess what, we don't agree. We went to see "Atonement" - Nina liked it. I didn't.

I thought it was one of the most boring films I've ever seen. I speak here as a big fan of Ian McEwan, I love his books and unlike many people I prefer his later works over his earlier work. But as a film, for me this simply didn't work. The film is sluggish, slow, boring, dull. James McAvoy does the best he can with the limited scope he's given. Keira Knightley sticks her chin out. That's about it. It feels like Joe Wright said to his cast "watch Brief Encounter, channel Celia Johnson" - except that Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard were so much of their time that it simply doesn't work in the present day to pretend to be them. The only person who successfully pulled off the clipped voice was Harriet Walter as the mother. The best bits of the film were Daniel Mays as the surly squaddie, and Vanessa Redgrave right at the end. But that means you have to watch two hours of "zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz" for a couple of minutes of good stuff.

No doubt this will get all sorts of nominations for all sorts of awards - its a literary adaption, its period, its British, people can pat themselves on the back for being intellectual as they vote for it - it really fancies itself as "The English Patient" de nos jours, but it isn't; Keira Knightley is no Kristen Scott Thomas and despite the film looking lovely it just isn't that good. I wanted to like it - I wanted someone to show me that an adaptation of a book I like can turn into a good film - but along with Chocolat and Charlotte Gray, amongst others, this goes down as one of those adaptions that I wish had never happened.

One day, Nina and I will go to the flicks and agree that we saw the same film. Possibly.


Blogger Stacie said...

K.K. sticks her chin out in Pride & Prejudice too, esp. in the big, angry proposal scene. Droves me to distraction now when I pop the DVD in the player. Do other directors notice that chin and tell her to pull it back in?!?!?

8:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear - I'm getting the vibe that you didn't like it much! You're quite right about KK's chin but I think it's partly because she's so slender that her chin is emphasised (I'm trying to be nice but she does remind me of one of those robot drones from Star Wars ep.1 - I kept expecting her to roll into shot and then spring upright in an explosion of limbs). I also think you're right about novel adaptations being so difficult to get right but it occurs to me that's partly because the stories are usually "book" stories rather than "drama" stories, and so that's how the originals were written. Or maybe its the flowery, descriptive prose modern writers use. There's so many "unwritten" gaps for a dramatist to fill in a Jane Austen whilst a good Ian McEwan is written in a way that the modern reader can really see the landscape and the subtext of the story. Or then again, maybe it has to do with being of the same era as the writer, so we "get" modern novels much more easily than we do classics and don't need the extra landscape of an adaptation? I dunno, really but I do share your frustration...

2:46 pm  
Anonymous seven of Nen said...

In defense of me liking the film (having not read the book) a classic cop out... It was beautifully shot. LOL

10:57 pm  

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