YMMV / Atonement

  • 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? What's more is that in the Distant Finale Briony claims she will be suffering from dementia. So if she writes a happy ending for Robbie and Cecilia, the dementia will make her think it's true. Adds another layer to her motivations.
    • 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.
  • Award Snub:
    • Despite garnering nominations in other parts of the awards circuit, including the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes, Keira Knightley and James McAvoy ultimately failed to earn Oscar nominations. Though both categories were especially crowded with talent during the 80th Academy Awards, it doesn't stop fans from complaining that they could have replaced Ellen Page or Johnny Depp.
    • Despite seven nominations, second only the eight by No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, the film itself ultimately went home with only one Oscar for Best Original Score.
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: A good amount of the interviews for the movie were regarding the library tryst.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Dario Marianelli earned a well-deserved Oscar for the moving score.
  • 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.
  • Signature Scene: The Dunkirk oner. While people had questioned the shooting of the scene as a oner since the single shot adds little to the story (it wasn't supposed to be one, but became one due to time constraints), the result was found to be quite memorable when taken on its own as a cinematic painting of the chaos at Dunkirk. The scene itself ended up being somewhat more famous than the movie itself.
  • 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.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/Atonement