Monday 19 November 2018

'Atonement', lies, and 'our' Saoirse

Mind matters...

Saoirse Ronan was just 12 in her break out role in Atonement
Saoirse Ronan was just 12 in her break out role in Atonement

John Masterson

There is a lot of fuss, I suspect justified, about Saoirse Ronan. I have more interest than usual because she is a young woman who lived up the road in Carlow. I watched her on Graham Norton, where the couch is pretty much reserved for A-listers, and she gave yet another A-list performance.

I was doing my regular charity shop browse last week where I find CDs that I had missed out on, and DVDs that I never bought because at the time I had recently seen the film. For €2 Atonement was well worth the money. Saoirse was just about a teenager when it was shot and was not even named on the front cover. I settled into it with a roaring fire during the cold spell. I looked forward to the five-minute single shot of masterpiece filming that director Joe Wright orchestrated of the soldiers at Dunkirk. It is well worth watching again, and again. And I was left aghast at just how good Saoirse Ronan's performance was. Not surprisingly, she received a bucketful of supporting role nominations and a bright future was predicted.

The other thing that struck me was how many films and novels depend on a lie to drive the story. Without spoiling anything for those who go back to watch this film again, Saoirse's character tells a lie which has profound implications for the relationship between her elder sister, played by Keira Knightley, and her lover (co-star James McAvoy). Saoirse's lie was motivated by immature jealousy and childish ideas about sex.

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