Interestingly, I watched it with a more objective, critical eye the second time, yet had a far more intense emotional response to it. I know a lot of you didn't really like it and I can certainly understand why (especially if, like me, war movies aren't your bag) but if I were you I would consider watching it again, because the knowledge gained from the last chapter of the film completely changes the way you see the rest of it, so on a second viewing the bits you didn't like so much take on an entirely different sheen. Which in itself is kind of wonderful, given that it's a film *about* perspective and how skewed our subjective perspective can be.
I'm fangirling James McAvoy pretty hard at the moment, but I'm also fangirling Joe Wright, the director of Atonement. On Kirsten's recommendation (hi Kirsten!) I also watched his commentary, and it was brilliant. I love that he's a true natural talent, who uses symbolism intuitively but not intellectually. He does a lot of things that "feel right" without really knowing why, and for the most part his instincts are bang on the money. Also Keira is extremely great in this film. (Please don't diss her in my journal! Every single woman I know hates her and I'm getting kind of sick of hearing about it.)
Okay, so things I loved the first time I saw it became even more extraordinary the second time: the editing, the sound, the incredibly rhythmic first section with the rat-a-tat-tat of the typewriter punctuating the beautiful, dramatic score as well as the onscreen action. The masterful building of tension, the glorious letter Robbie writes to Cecilia (and I don't care what anyone says, it's blunt crudeness makes it more romantic than anything else in the whole world) leading up to one of the single best sex scenes I've ever seen. (James's little "uh"'s during it are just. GOOD GOD HE'S SO FUCKING HOT.) That first section is perfection. Absolutely brilliant film making.
But what really surprised me on the second viewing was how much I liked the second section, which became infinitely more fascinating with the knowledge that it was not quite real, that it was merely a version of the story told by a woman we know to be a liar. The first time I was a bit bored by the war bits (with the exception of the remarkable five minute steady-cam shot on the beach) and my feeling was pretty much, "seen it all before." Which of course is the point. This is a film about storytelling and imagination, and the feeling that many of the war scenes were a bit off, or somewhat contrived, is precisely what we're supposed to feel. Because really, we have no idea what's real. Briony is God, Briony decides what the truth is, Briony is manipulating us. Robbie is the perfect man because Briony thinks she can atone by making him perfect, just as she thinks she can atone by letting Robbie and Cecilia live and be together. And I guess it's up to each member of the audience to decide whether Briony has succeeded. Personally I agree with Ian McEwan, who thinks that Briony's decision not to tell the truth is an act of cowardice, but I also agree with Joe Wright that a happy ending is not always a sign of weakness; it can be a sign of strength. See what I'm saying? THIS FILM REALLY MAKES YOU THINK.
And then! I watched a film with my OTHER favourite actor in it: "The Lookout" starring Joseph Gordon Levitt. I won't bore you with my thoughts about it but needless to say it's a really good film, he is amazing in it and I love him passionately.
I'm not sure who I love more out of McAvoy and JGL. They are both so talented and intelligent and soulful and attractive. If I had to choose between them I think I would actually cry real tears. Wouldn't it be awesome if they were in a film together? Kind of like how "3:10 to Yuma" was great because it starred Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, two of the world's best actors (in that age bracket). I think McAvoy and JGL should do something that slashy, although not a western because they're too young and I'm not generally a fan of westerns. I can't even imagine them acting together but I'm pretty sure it would be super hot.