This period drama, based on the book by Ian McEwan, is as tragic as it is beautiful. I haven't read the book so I cannot compare them, but if you have ever done something that hurt a loved one or a friend and came to regret, this may be an opportunity for you to do penance, assuage the guilt, and find a way to make restitution.
The basic story is that a very precocious and rigid young English girl, who thinks she knows more than she does, puts her nose where she shouldn't, misinterprets what she sees and then lies. Her lies send an innocent young man to jail and ruins his romance with her older sister. He finally gets out of jail be agreeing to go to war (WWII)....
The film takes its time getting to London where the young soldier (James McAvoy) and his inamorata (Kiera Knightley) meet up for a short time - or do they?
The acting is superb by all, especially by Saoirse Ronan who plays the young Briony at age 13 (and who will be in the upcoming The Lovely Bones).
What is so interesting to me is the form Briony's atonement took and who it mattered to; this film could launch a thousand conversations.
The cinematography and direction are flawless.