I went and saw the movie Atonement today. It is based on an Ian McEwan novel. It was sumptuous, sensual, melacholy and visually captivating. Kiera Knightley and James McAvoy star in this movie along with some easily recognized British faces. She is perfectly cast in this role. She fits my idea of the 1930’s beauty. She is lithe and fluid and wonderful to watch. James McAvoy has the most amazing face and blue eyes that catch your breath. He reminds me of all of the dashing and debonair actors of the 1940’s. This was such an elegant period. People were classy and sophisticated. All set in the shadow of WWII.

The whole story hinges on the story of a little girl who sees something and reads something but does not understand what they mean. Through a domino of events, her recall leads to a horrible event. Everything cascades from there. None of it can be reversed. Nothing can be retracted. And, with time, nothing can be atoned.

How can you atone for a sin when the person from whom you need absolution is no longer able to forgive? How does one cleanse their soul of the stain when they are alone? How do you live an entire life with shame, especially when the shame is hidden and absolutely private? If from innocence, comes an act meant to help but instead causes great harm….how can that be retracted? How can one apologize? In this movie (and likely in the book) there is this idea that the child-now-woman has worked her whole like to fix this thing she did. She wants to atone for her acts. Her whole life is penance. It is tragic and sad and beautiful.

I highly recommend this movie. But….go early. In my town, the theater was PACKED.

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