Friday, September 05, 2008

Atonement


As opposed to my usual practice, I have decided to forego reading Ian McEwan's Atonement before watching the movie. I don't know if it's a mistake yet since I currently don't have a copy of the novel. But the movie is saved as a file in my laptop hard drive (legit: borrowed from Video City then copied) and one thing I know: I am NOT going to delete it anytime soon. I rather like having James McAvoy's hotness available to me in just one click.

Oh of course, the movie was good. Not a rollickin' good fun type of film, no. It's the story of Briony Tallis - thirteen and in the throes of her puppy love for their gardener/right hand man Robbie Turner. As it happens though, Robbie is very much in love with Briony's older sister Cecilia. R & C has a brief courtship, supported by the many years they grew up together and finally professes love for each other in the heat of, aherm, passion. Brione wallks in on them, saw their uncompromising position and broke her heart. She's formed it in her mind Robbie is a sex maniac and so, when her visiting cousin was molested, by force of anger or vengeance, she pointed the judging finger on Robbie. He ends up in jail for a while, and then was given the choice to serve the war. He chose war. But in his ears, ringing still, was Cecilia's whispered reminder, "Come back to me, Robbie."

Really, it isn't fast-moving at all. But the patience you develop is almost unnoticeable because somehow, you do want to know how the 2 young protagonists' love will turn out. I suppose, only a few Filipinos will like it for its bittersweet ending, but I do. I like the writerly voice they used and the way everything unfolded --- like memory itself, pushing forward and rolling back.

And I like the older Brione's last act of kindness to her sister and Robbie. She gave them an alternate reality. Written in a book, it will live far longer than the 2 ever did and will live in the memories of thousands of people. Somehow, with so many people believing they did meet and love and lived, they probably would... in some other world, not this one.

Yes, it could be seen as a way to assuage her own conscience -- yet another cowardly act. But if you're a writer, you'll get it. You'll understand how writing about something can make it real. And how by writing, you can preserve something beautiful as a memory in the hearts of thousands, even if it never came to pass.

As long as it reaches its goal of teaching vicariously how many ways life can be lived, then it is real.

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