- Alternate Character Interpretation: Briony's actions regarding the happy ending she gives to Robbie and Cecilia in her novel: is she genuinely making amends to people she wronged the only way she can and knows how, or is she selfishly, cravenly and dishonestly attempting to rewrite history and cover up her own actions to make herself feel better, and hiding behind atonement as a justification?
- As the film's FAQ on IMDB puts it, the rape of Lola could have well been consensual. She's shown to be worrying about her family's finances and shows great interest in Marshall when he talks about his factory business. While he most definitely took advantage of her, when Briony finds her Lola doesn't scream for help or act as if she were in any kind of distress - all she does is act embarrassed and say "I'm sorry" over again. So their eventual marriage could either be Victim Falls For Rapist or Jail Bait Wait.
- Best Known for the Fanservice: A good amount of the interviews for the movie were regarding the library tryst.
- Genius Bonus: After Briony has accused Robbie of raping Lola, she is shown standing in front of a stained-glass window of St. Matilda, the patroness of the falsely accused, and also the subject of a nursery rhyme that begins "Matilda told such awful lies/ She made one gasp and stretch their eyes..."
- Narm: Some of the drama about the obscene letter leads to this in the movie. Especially when the word "Cunt" is flashed on the screen, leading to unintentional hilarity. According to screenwriter Christopher Hampton, the scene was meant to play out like a comedic farce, to make the turn for the tragic all the more shocking. This is a departure from the book where the horror of the situation is mostly played straight.
- One-Scene Wonder: Vanessa Redgrave as Briony in the present day.
- Retroactive Recognition: One of Benedict Cumberbatch's earlier film roles. He uses a high-pitched voice to add to the Upper-Class Twit feel, making him harder to recognize now.
- Alfie Allen, here having just a couple of scenes as Danny Hardman, would gain greater exposure as Theon in Game of Thrones.
- Tear Jerker:
- When Briony reveals that what we have been watching was her book with a falsified ending and that Robbie and Cecilia died and never had their chance at happiness entirely because of her actions. She grants them in fiction what she denied them in life. It's the only way she could deal with the guilt of what she had done.
- The scene where Robbie is being taken away and his mother is frantically banging on the car.
- Robbie, having not seen Cecilia in years outside of contact through letters, being told that they only have a few minutes to spend together; hes very nearly in tears.
- The scene where it's revealed Robbie died from septicimia.
Nettle: Cheerio, pal.
- In that vein, Robbie's last words.
Robbie: You won't hear another word from me...
- What an Idiot: Cecilia knows Briony has an overactive imagination. She's clearly afraid of Briony showing the letter to her mother. You'd think as soon as everyone was looking for the twins, she'd at least take Briony aside and explain the situation.
- Granted, it's awkward for your little sister to walk in on you having sex, but she also could have at least said something to her after Briony catches her and Robbie in the library instead of silently leaving, thus making Briony confused and ignorant to Cecilia's consent to the encounter.
- Cecilia and Robbie never consider Marshall as a possibility for the real rapist until Briony tells them, even though he was the stranger in the house that night and had showed up at dinner with a scratch to match Lola's bruises. (In an interesting example of Not So Different, they seem to have settled on Danny Hardman as certainly as Briony settled on Robbie, and based on as little evidence, prompting Robbie to remark that they "owe Able Seaman Hardman an apology.")
- Though this is Briony's fictional version of Robbie and Cecilia, it may be true or it may be Briony's imagination.