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Atonement 

This is not a sweeping romance for the ages. It is, however, a very cool, very deep and dark story so different from the norm that it earned seven Academy Award nominations, including one for best picture.

Robbie Turner (James McAvoy, The Last King of Scotland) is the son of a housemaid for rich English family the Tallises. He works as a gardener to pay off the considerable debt to the family's patriarch for putting him through college. However, despite their awkward relationship, he's always had an eye for the family's eldest daughter, Cecilia (Keira Knightley), but never revealed his feelings. Robbie asks Cecilia's little sister, a girl with a vivid imagination, to deliver a letter inadvertently detailing sexually explicit behavior, an error that sets in motion life-altering changes for all parties.

Though the film is a love story of sorts, the sexual material makes it unsuitable for children—and because of its alternative nature (i.e. potentially sad ending), it's not recommended for fans of Harlequin or happy-go-lucky romance.

McAvoy and Knightley both shine in this film and are supported by a plethora of talented British actors. All in all, the film is a gloomy look at what clearly is the worst case of star-crossed love since Romeo met Juliet, and as such, I give it a full stamp of approval.

One last note: while watching, please pay close attention to the film's soundtrack, which won an Oscar for best original score by brilliantly and breathtakingly meshing music with sound effects—an absolutely inspiring achievement.

This video courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.

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