I don’t know if it’s much of a secret but I really neither wanted nor expected to like this much. Though I liked Enduring Love, another Ian McEwan adaptation, and I love James McAvoy, my hatred of the kind of praise this movie has received – not to mention Ikea Knightley – completely outweighed the positives.
Within minutes, however, I was fairly hooked – those typewriter clicks on the score, the pace of the whole thing. On the technical side, this is certainly watchable stuff, even if the pace of its opening isn’t quite kept up after the first 10 minutes. But though I was impressed by how much it exceeded my expectations, it all comes down to one thing for me, something I’m sure must be conveyed better in the novel unless all of its readers are just the types that are easy to please – and that’s that I just don’t believe for a second that a child in the 30s (especially one we’ve seen using a typewriter which even explains the letter) would be given so much credence over such a delicate, even today almost unspeakable matter. I mean, if ever there was a time when children were meant to be seen and not heard it was then. And by extension, I don’t really see the need for the period setting except to have some lovely war and costume scenes for Oscar (before you say it, I know it’s adapted from a novel … but still …)
Though I realise it would screw up the time passed thing of the ending, were it set today, I’d buy it easier. Even if the “c” word has lost its power to shock today, and I don’t believe it has at all (just try saying it to 10 strangers, I dare you) – if a child points their finger at a young man today and accuses them of anything, that man is basically f**ked, not to put too fine a point on it.
But I digress … it doesn’t matter because the next thing we know, McAvoy is in France in a soldier’s uniform talking French, and the movie gets better from there on out.
Any film that contains The Tracking Shot (yes, it’s impossible to write about this movie without mentioning it) earns itself an immediate 4 stars in my book. It is that good that it’s worth watching 2 hours for 10 minutes, even if the rest of the movie doesn’t come even close to the beauty and skill on display in those minutes. Overall it kept me wanting to know where exactly it was going in the end, and though that ending is too jarring to be as effective as it wants to be, I’m pleased to say this was much better than expected, so much so that I really won’t mind how many nominations it gets next month for the Oscars … yes, that includes Keira, for whom maybe another apology may be required (but not today).