A surprising 2007 Keira Knightley is making waves over on IMDB’s free streaming service as it is now the #5 most-watched movie of the year on the free site.
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Atonement stars Keira Knightley as Cecilia Tallis and James McAvoy as Robbie Turner and tells the story of a misunderstanding, a poorly designed (as a joke) apology letter, a crime committed, and World War II. The movie takes place over a period of six decades.
Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) is the 13-year-old younger sister to Keira Knightley’s Cecilia. One night she is spying on her sister and Robbie, with whom she has a secret crush, arguing near a fountain outside. Robbie has accidentally broken a vase and Robbie is yelling at Cecilia to stay put so she doesn’t cut her feet on the vase in the water. Briony mistakes everything she sees when her sister takes her outer clothing off and gets into the fountain to retrieve a broken piece. Briony believes she sees Robbie ordering her sister to strip down.
After this event, Robbie puts together an apology letter, the first one a joke where he informs her of his sexual attraction to Keira Knightley’s Cecilia, in graphic detail. He then pens a serious apology and asks Briony to deliver it to her sister. She is already delivering it when Robbie discovers he gave Briony the sexually explicit letter. Briony, at this point, has already read the letter before handing it over to her sister.
Briony explains in detail the contents of the letter to her visiting 15-year-old cousin Lola. Lola deems Robbie a “sex maniac.” Paul Marshall (Benedict Cumberbatch) arrives and shows immediate attention to Lola. Meanwhile, Robbie approaches Keira Knightley’s Cecilia to apologize for the naughty letter, but to his surprise, she confesses her love for him. The two end up making passionate love but during this, Briony walks in on them, thinking Robbie is raping her sister.
During dinner, Lola’s twin brothers are missing. As the search for the boys begins, Briony sees Lola apparently being raped by an unseen man. She believes this to be Robbie and when she confronts Lola, the man runs off. When Briony says it was Robbie, Lola does not deny it. From this, the letter, and what Briony saw in the library, Robbie is arrested and sent to jail.
We fast-forward four years and WWII has begun. Robbie is being released from prison on the one condition that he joins the army. He does. Briony, now 18, is a nurse in her sister’s old nursing unit. Briony tries to make amends with Keira Knightley’s Cecilia, but her older sister won’t have any of it. Meanwhile, Robbie has arrived on the beaches of Dunkirk, where he is gravely wounded and waiting to be evacuated.
The realization for Briony begins to settle in when she arrives for Paul and Lola’s wedding. It wasn’t Robbie who committed the rape of Lola, it was actually Paul.
The story moves to many decades later where we find an aged Briony (Vanessa Redgrave) a very successful novelist. She is being interviewed about her latest novel, Atonement, where she has some shocking revelations.
Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Darkest Hour) brought novelist Ian McEwan’s book of the same name to life. Though his casting process became quite lengthy, Wright’s eye was set firmly on actress Keira Knightley. “I just admire her so much,” Wright told the Independent. “I think she’s a really extraordinary actress and quite an extraordinary human being.” He then spoke about how Keira Knightley bravely took on the role of Cecilia. “It’s a character that’s not always likeable and I think so many young actors these days are terrified of being disliked at any given moment-in case the audience doesn’t come and pay their box-office money to see them again. Keira is not afraid of that. She puts her craft first.”
When Atonement arrived in 2007, Keira Knightley already had made a big name for herself. She had starred as Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, so those three films alone shot her up the ladder as one of the most sought-after actresses during that time span. During that time, Knightley also had big roles in Love Actually, King Arthur, Pride & Prejudice, and Domino.
Atonement was widely recognized among the critics and the awards circuit. The Keira Knightley film was nominated for seven Oscars to include Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress for Ronan. It took home the award for Best Original Score. The movie also garnered 14 nominations at the 61st British Academy Film Awards, winning both Best Production Design and Best Film. The movie also brought home a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama.