The technically dazzling Atonement is heightened by delicate photography, stunning make-up and an innovative musical score by Academy Award winner Dario Marianelli. The direction, by Joe Wright, has got merit, but despite some good moments (e.g. the four plus minute sequence on the beach of Dunkirk), the uncustomary narrative structure distances us from the emotional impact of the story. The purpose, of course, is to enhance the mystery - or rather, to create a mystery of what is essentially a classic tragedy. It is a well-written one at that, full of interesting aspects of oppressed sexuality and painful soul-searching - which ultimately aren't explored well enough. When Wright gives his segments time to breathe and mature, such as the depiction a couple of crucial events early on from two contrasting points of view, Atonement is encompassing. And the performances of James McAvoy and Saoirse Ronan deserve a more thorough examination of relations and emotions. Keira Knightley, on the other hand, looks like an anorectic 21st century model. It makes her Cecilia Tallis hard to believe as a 1930s miss, but Knightley still delivers in the challenging dramatic scenes - of which, alas, there are too few.