Atonement (film)

2007 film directed by Joe Wright

Atonement is a 2007 film in which thirteen-year-old fledgling writer Briony Tallis irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister's lover of a crime he did not commit.

Directed by Joe Wright. Written by Christopher Hampton, based on Ian McEwan's novel of the same name.
You can only imagine the truth. taglines

Briony TallisEdit

  • What do you think it would feel like to be someone else?
  • If you write a story, you only have to say the word ‘castle’ and you can see the towers and the woods and the village below... But in a play it’s... it all depends on other people.
  • Love is all very well, but you have to be sensible.
  • [in a letter] Dear Cecilia, Please don't throw this away without reading it. As you'll have seen from the notepaper, I'm here at St. Thomas's, doing my nurses' training. I decided not to take up my place at Cambridge. I decided I wanted to make myself useful, do something practical. But no matter how hard I work, no matter how long the hours, I can't escape from what I did and what it meant, the full extent of which I'm only now beginning to grasp. Cee, please write and tell me we can meet. Your sister, Briony.
  • I am very, very sorry for the terrible distress that I have caused you. I am very, very sorry...
  • [writing] The princess was well aware of his remorseless wickedness. But that made it no easier to overcome the voluminous love she felt in her heart for Sir Romulus. The princess knew instinctively that the one with red hair was not to be trusted. As his young ward dived again and again into the depths of the lake, in search of the enchanted chalice, Sir Romulus twirled his luxuriant mustache. Sir Romulus rode with his two companions, northwards, drawing ever closer to an effulgent sea. So heroic in manner, he appeared so valiant in word... And no could ever guess at the darkness lurking in the black heart of Sir Romulus Turnbull. He was the most dangerous man in the world.
  • My doctor tells me I have something called vascular dementia; which is essentially a continuous series of tiny strokes. Your brain gradually closes down. You lose words, you lose your memory: which, for a writer, is pretty much the point. That’s why I could finally write this book; and why, of course, it’s my last novel. Strangely enough, it would be just as accurate to call it my first novel. I wrote several drafts as far back as my time at St. Thomas’s Hospital during the war. I just couldn’t ever find the way to do it.
  • [Last lines] I never made that journey to Balham. So the scene in which I confess to them is invented, imagined. And, in fact, could never have happened... .because Robbie Turner died of septicaemia at Bray Dunes on the first of June 1940, the last day of the evacuation...and I was never able to put things right with my sister Cecilia....because she was killed on the 15th of October, 1940 by the bomb that destroyed the gas and water mains above Balham tube station. So, my sister and Robbie were never able to have the time together they both so longed for... and deserved. Which ever since I've... ever since I've always felt I prevented. But what sense of hope or satisfaction could a reader derive from an ending like that? So in the book, I wanted to give Robbie and Cecilia what they lost out on in life. I'd like to think this isn't weakness or... evasion... but a final act of kindness. I gave them their happiness.

Cecilia TallisEdit

  • [In a letter] My darling, Briony found my address somehow and sent a letter. The first surprise was she didn't go up to Cambridge. She's doing nurses' training at my old hospital. I think she may be doing this as some kind of penance.She says she's beginning to get the full grasp of what she did and what it meant. She wants to come and talk to me. I love you. I'll wait for you. Come back. Come back to me.
  • [To Robbie] Come back, come back to me.

Robbie TurnerEdit

  • [In a letter] Dearest Cecilia, the story can resume. The one I had been planning on that evening walk. I can become again the man who once crossed the Surrey park at dusk, in my best suit, swaggering on the promise of life. The man who, with the clarity of passion, made love to you in the library. The story can resume. I will return. Find you, love you, marry you and live without shame.
  • [to Briony] I’ll be quite honest with you. I’m torn between breaking your neck here and taking you and throwing you down the stairs.
  • [to Briony] How old do you have to be before you know the difference between right and wrong? What are you, eighteen? Do you have to be eighteen before you bring yourself to own up to a lie? There are...soldiers of eighteen old enough to be left to die on the side of the road! Did you know that!?
  • [to Briony] Five years ago you didn’t care about telling the truth. You- all your family, you just assumed that for all my education, I was still little better than a servant, still not to be trusted!. Thanks to you, they were able to close ranks and throw me to the fucking wolves!.


  • Tommy Nettle (on France): No-one speaks the fucking lingo out here. You can't say, "Pass the biscuit", or "Where's me 'and grenade?"; they just shrug. 'Cause they hate us too. I mean, that's the point: we fight in France and the French fuckin' 'ate us! Make me 'Ome Secretary and I'll sort this out in a fuckin' minute. We got India and Africa, right? Jerry can have France and Belgium and whatever else they want. 'Oo's fuckin' ever been to Poland? It's all about room, empire! They want more empire; give 'em this shit hole, we keep ours, and it's Bob's your uncle and Fanny's your fucking aunt! Think about it.
  • Paul Marshall: Bite it! You have to bite it.


[Robbie breaks a vase]
Cecilia: You idiot! You realize this is probably the most valuable thing we own?!
Robbie: Not any more, it isn't.

Pierrot: It's boring how everything ends in "O". Polo and Aero.
Jackson: And Oxo and Brillo.

Cecilia: [about Paul Marshall] I suppose he’s what you might call eligible.
Leon: Rather!
Cecilia: He certainly seems to think he’s the cat’s pyjamas. Which is odd, considering he has pubic hair growing out of his ears.

Cecilia: [crying] I don't know how I could've been so ignorant about myself... so... so stupid. And you know what I'm talking about, don't you? You knew before I did.
Robbie: Why're you crying?
Cecilia: Don't you know?
Robbie: Yes, I know exactly. [kisses her]

Briony (comfortingly): Lola, can I tell you something? Something really terrible?
Lola (sobbing): Yes please.

Briony: It was Robbie, wasn’t it? [Silence] Robbie.
Lola: You saw him?
Briony: Like you said, he's a sex maniac. And you don't even know what happened before dinner. I caught him attacking my sister in the library. I don’t know what he’d have done, if I hadn’t come in...
Lola: You actually saw him.
Briony: Of course I did. Plain as day.
Lola: He came up behind me. He pushed me to the ground and then he put his hand over my eyes. I couldn’t actually, I never actually...
Briony: Listen, I’ve known him all my life. And I saw him.
Lola: Because I couldn’t say for sure.
Briony: Well, I can. And I will.

Cecilia: My brother and I found the two of them down by the lake.
Police Inspector: You didn't see anyone else?
Cecilia: I wouldn't necessarily believe everything Briony tells you. She's rather fanciful.

Robbie: Have you been in touch with your family?
Cecilia: No, I told you I wouldn't. Leon waited outside the hospital last week. I just pushed past him.
Robbie: Cee, you don't owe me anything.
Cecilia: Robbie, didn't you read my letters? Had I been allowed to visit you, had they let me, every day, I would have been there every day.
Robbie: Yes, but if all we have rests on a few moments in a library three and a half years ago then I am not sure, I don't know...
Cecilia: Robbie, look at me. Come back, come back to me.

Robbie: Come on, pal. You should be getting dressed.
Briony: If I fell in the river, would you save me?
Robbie: Of course.
[Briony jumps into the water and Robbie dives after her; eventually, he pulls her out and drops her near the bank]
Briony: Thank you, thank you, thank you...
Robbie: That was an incredibly bloody stupid thing to do!
Briony: I wanted you to save me.
Robbie: Don't you know how easily you could have drowned?
Briony: You saved me.
Robbie: You stupid child! You could have killed us both! Is that your idea of a joke?
[Briony looks at him for a moment, shocked by his tone, but defiant nonetheless]
Briony: I want to thank you for saving my life. I'll be eternally grateful to you.

Cecilia: There isn't much time. Robbie has to report for duty at six, and he's got a train to catch. So sit down. There are some things you're going to do for us.
Robbie: You'll go to your parents as soon as you can and tell them everything they need to know to be convinced that your evidence was false. You'll go and see a solicitor and make a statement and have it signed and witnessed and send copies to us. Is that clear?
Cecilia : Yes.
Robbie: Then you'll write a detailed letter to me, explaining everything that led up to you saying you saw me by the lake.
Cecilia: Try and include whatever you can remember of what Danny Hardman was doing that night.
Briony: Hardman?
Robbie: Yes!
Briony: It wasn't Danny Hardman. It was Leon's friend, Marshall.
Cecilia: I don't believe you.
Briony: He's married Lola; I've just come from their wedding.
Cecilia: Lola won't be able to testify against him now. He's immune.
Briony: [very formally] I'm very, very sorry for the terrible distress that I have caused. I'm very, very sorry.
Robbie: Just do as I have asked of you. Write it all down. Just the truth. No rhymes, no embellishments, no adjectives. And then leave us be.

Fiona: It says in the paper the army are making strategic withdrawals.
Briony: I saw that. It's a euphemism for retreat.


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