hopscotchee: alfie allen score: 62 rating: R time: 130 minutes
high-school-musical-right-here-right-now, we feel like the sorting hat in harry potter with atonement...were to put you???? having only recalled this movie from a time when we were younger and saw this saucy lil cover, thinking 'what epically dramatic and fervent love story could this story possibly hold?' and now, years later, finally having seen it, despite it winning and being nominated for several oscars and golden globes at the 2007 academy awards, we unfortunately didn't get the hype it acclaimed to have had. now, this wasn't at fault of fabricated expectations from our youth, for we go into movie viewing completely open minded, not letting it's previously talked up fame or attention sway a reaction. this fault was rather as a result of a disconnect in storylines, covering the mindsets of a range of characters and jumping across several storylines over several years.
rightfully, as you may or may not have known, this film was adapted from the novel of its same title by ian mcewan, and in most cases, books are always better than the movies (typically not living up to the same beloved feel or fetish for the finer details of the original). however, unfortuently, with this film, the situation was no different. screenwriter christopher hampton's translation of the book to the screen lacked an exposition for setting up the characters' relationships at the beginning, leading to confusion in the plot. although, yes, this was to have the story be told from briony's point of view, by not introducing cecilia and robbie as the lead couple left the audience less affected by the drama between the two, not fully understanding the draw to their relationship. and despite trying to include small fragments and snippets of robbie or cecilia interacting or individually, without briony, it didn't change the plot's splintered storylines and definitely didn't provide enough screen time to (spoiler) all of a sudden throw in naughty letters!! like seriously, talk about escalating. anyway, it is easy to say that the length of the beginning and it's obligation to cram in chunky content in fact took away from the film itself. from plot lines such as (spoiler) briony's play, cecilia and robbie's affection for each other, robbie being drafted in the war, briony working in the hospital, the weird sub plot of briony and the wounded solider, the letters between robbie and cecelia back and forth, and lola's rape - which (spoiler) like right from the moment paul marshall was introduced and ate that chocolate bar in literally the creepiest and most ill fated way possible we knew it was bad news bears from there - had the plot feeling rather junky, especially when also hectically switching from past to present across different decades.
in all fairness, the jumpiness of the plot could've easily been at the hand of the editor, which can drastically shift the way the story is told and perceived by the audience through the compilation of shots put together. however, that said, the only saving grace of this movie was cinematographer, seamus mcgarvey (fun fact: also the cinematographer for past hopscotch nocturnal animals) and the actually decent shot comp. so if you weren't terribly jazzed with the storyline, you at least had enough artistic variations in lighting and angles to please you throughout the movie. the obvious scene to mention, which was also bravely executed by the director, joe wright, was the (spoiler) long and beautifully drawn out single pan following robbie and the soldiers on the shore at war. we can't even imagine how many takes they possible had to take to get that shot as seamless and perfect as it turned out to be, but we know, for sure, that it wasn't an easy day on set as the lighting had to be timed perfectly with the camera movement to capture the breathtaking sunrise, symbolizing the hope of brighter days ahead with cecilia that kept robbie going for the whole movie. this one shot made us easily envious of the clear talent displayed, deeply admiring the epic choice of a pan for this part in the movie. as we like to say, good on ya'!!
quickly wrapping up, overall, the plot didn't feel right. whether this was because of the script or editing or both it was kinda all over the place, clearly establishing an obvious misalignment from book to screen. simply, for being talked up as much as it was, there was definitely a detachment. and we get that it's a book and the ending's already written, but, on top of that, not gonna lie, the movie's conclusion was a little aggravatingly redundant. what was already a long and dreaded story to begin with, left viewers with (spoiler) briony never truly apologizing to cecilia or robbie and writing a book instead, dedicated to them since they had both died. . . . like what the - what was the point of her character if she only came to her senses once nothing could've been done about the plot's consequences of her actions. then again the movie is called atonement, so we get the point.
-- thanks, alfie xo