It is with a heart leaping with joy that I report that Atonement - due in theaters Dec. 21 - is a faithful, gorgeous, heart-breaking, wonderful adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel set just before and during World War II. It's so rare that filmmakers get an adaptation exactly right, that every element meshes perfectly - casting, sets, screenplay, sound, cinematography, costumes - but here, Joe Wright has accomplished such a feat. He may well have made the movie of the year.
McEwan helped to adapt the screenplay, along with Christopher Hampton, who's adapted a few others, notably a fine version of Graham Greene's The Quiet American in 2002.
Some will feel they should read the book before seeing the movie, but in this case it's not necessary and may in fact pack more of an emotional punch if you haven't read the book. It's that easy to be swept away by this story of love and guilt and war. I'm usually anal retentive about such things but here, don't worry about the novel. Read it later. Just don't miss this film.