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.