Monday, December 8, 2008

Hitting the Right Tone with Tim Walker

Last weekend I finally rented Atonement, which I’d been putting off seeing because of my mixed reaction to the novel.

On the one hand, the novel is a graduate student’s dream if one is pondering narrative theory; on the other, it reminds me of the infamous season opener of Dallas when Pam woke up and discovered that the whole rotten preceding season in which Bobby had died, etc., etc., was all a bad dream.

I can agree with myself on one detail, though: the film was gorgeous.

But my eye went not toward Keira in her green dress, doing her fastest impression of Kristin Scott Thomas’ clipped speech. Rather, it fixed upon Lola Quincey and her little red-haired brothers.

This trio appeared as if straight out of a Tim Walker photograph, so doll-like were they lit and filmed. And Lola’s pink clothes, coupled with her beautiful red hair and peachy complexion, made a stunning aesthetic statement.

Too, the shabby ferris wheels and carnival rides on the beach depicted a dreamlike wasteland, in which childhood delights—the bright colors, the promise of cheerful activities—engagingly contrasted with the brown sobriety of all those young soldiers. It’s as if the designer and cinematographer are daring its viewers to take visual pleasure amid a landscape of injuries and uncertainty.

So although the plot may deal with atonement, and perhaps Mr. McEwan might be made to atone for his writerly manipulations, the look of the film is spot on. Nothing to atone for there.


Sal said...

Agreed: A gorgeous film, a questionably-crafted story.

La Belette Rouge said...

I have not seen the film. I have it in my Netflix cue and every time if gets close to the top I move it down a few. Perhaps, I will watch it with the volume off and then see if I feel like I want to hear what he/she has to atone for. Gorgeous photos!!

enc said...

It's beautiful to look at. I agree with you completely.

miss cav, for years I was a McEwan fan, but my passion for his work has waned recently. I thought "Saturday" was OTT and gratuitous. What do you think?


Tim Walker is marvelous! Love his book & can't say enough about the fantasy galore...

miss cavendish said...

enc--I haven't read _Saturday_ but was maddened by _On Chesil Beach_. I found it utterly misogynistic and self-indulgent.

Mary-Laure said...

I haven't seen the movie or read the book; its my vague impression that he's one of those super-over-rated authors, no?
The images you chose for this post are nothing short of exquisite.

miss cavendish said...

I first read Atonement because it was inspired by Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, which I was teaching (see the epigraph to Atonement). Even though Austen's work is part of her juvenile canon, I prefer it to the more mature McEwan's novel.

Christina Lee said...

I agree, the movie was beautifully done. I too was drawn to the redheads. However, I also think that the green dress and the "love" scene was the best I've seen in a long time-hot ;)
I always see your comments on otehr blogs-thought I'd stop by.
Take care!