Theatrical release poster
|Edited by||Paul Tothill|
|Box office||$129.3 million|
Atonement is a 2007
Atonement opened both the 2007
Atonement won an
In 1935 England, Briony Tallis is a 13-year-old from a wealthy family. She has just completed writing her first play to mark her brother's homecoming and plans to stage it later that day with her visiting cousins.
Looking out of her bedroom window, she spies on her older sister, Cecilia, and the housekeeper's son, Robbie Turner, on whom Briony has a crush. Cecilia is undressing and dips into the fountain pool; a moment later, she climbs out, her undergarments wet, all while Robbie watches. Cecilia had gone to the pond to fill a vase, Robbie grabbed one of the handles, and it broke. A part fell into the pond, and Cecilia jumped in to retrieve it, but to Briony, it looked as if Robbie had ordered Cecilia to undress and go under the water.
Robbie drafts a series of notes to Cecilia apologizing for the incident, namely breaking the vase and laughing about it. One contains an explicit expression of his sexual desire for her, including frequent and crude usage of the word "
Briony reads the letter before giving it to Cecilia. Later, she describes it to her older visiting cousin, Lola, who calls Robbie a "sex maniac". Paul Marshall, a visiting friend of Briony's older brother's and a
Before dinner, Robbie apologises for the obscene letter, but Cecilia surprises him and confesses her secret love for him. They then proceed to make passionate love in the library when Briony walks in, and thinks that Cecilia is under attack. Cecilia and Robbie try to pass the incident off.
At dinner, Briony finds that Lola's twin brothers have run away, and Paul calls for a search of the estate grounds. In the course of it, Briony glimpses Lola having sex with a man. She goes to Lola, and they make statements to one another that appear to establish that it was rape perpetrated by Robbie. The belief is sustained during police questioning, and the earlier note is seen as corroborative evidence. Robbie's arrest and imprisonment follow.
About four years later, during
Briony, now 18, has chosen to join Cecilia's old nursing unit at
Robbie, who is falling gravely ill from an infected wound, finally arrives at the beaches of Dunkirk, where he waits to be
Later, Briony—who now regrets her lie—learns from a newsreel that Paul Marshall, who owns a factory supplying rations to the British army, is about to be married to Lola. Briony goes to the ceremony, and as the priest asks if anyone objects to the union, she recalls seeing Paul assault Lola. However, she remains silent. As Paul and Lola leave the church, they glance at Briony, but also say nothing.
Afterwards, Briony visits Cecilia to apologise to her directly. She is surprised to find her sister with Robbie, who is in London on leave. Briony apologises for her deceit, but Robbie is enraged that she has still not accepted responsibility for her actions, when soldiers younger than she have died in the war. Cecilia calms him down, and the couple ask Briony to confess and to have the legal record rectified. Briony agrees. However, she also has to tell them that Paul has married Lola. He is now most unlikely to be punished, as Lola will be
Briony is now elderly and a successful novelist, giving an interview about her latest book that will cap her career; she is now dying of
Cecilia and Robbie were never reunited: Robbie died of