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Atonement

Director:  Joe Wright
Year Released:  2007
Rating:  2.0

The first shot says it all: it's a doll house that belongs to the Unreliable Narrator (played, at age 13, by the excellent Saoirse Ronan), who relays the story about how a lie she tells about a young gardener (James McAvoy) gets him sent to jail. The first act is all fuzzy details and inexplicable moments (who writes dirty notes about lapping wet cunts and then forgets to meticulously shred them? When it comes to Keira, that's what I would do...), the Dunkirk footage is done Cuarón-style (in long, grim, swooping takes) and then the conclusion is a manipulative slap, telling you outright that the last few scenes you saw were a lie ... only to go back to the lie (right before the closing credits) with one lingering shot of the beach and What Could Have Been (just because Vanessa Redgrave is telling you you've been hoodwinked doesn't make the hoodwinking easier to take). Most dubious piece of advice an older man can give to a teenage girl: "You have to bite it."

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