An "Instant Classic" Opens Venice Film Fest
The Venice Film Festival opened Wednesday night with several critics predicting that the opening-night film, Joe Wright's Atonement, will not only capture the festival's Golden Lion award but numerous Oscars as well. Ray Bennett in the Hollywood Reporter describes it as "an instant classic" and predicts it will capture "rapturous audiences and major awards." Writing in the London Daily Telegraph, David Gritten praised the film as "a triumph" and forecast that the film will garner numerous awards, especially for stars Keira Knightly and James McAvoy's "impeccable performances" and for Wright's "bravura direction." Gritten concludes: "Truly, here is a British film worth celebrating." Nevertheless, Gritten and other critics question the commercial viability of the movie. Gritten remarked that it "might prove a little too rarefied for large mainstream audiences." Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian wrote, "It is clever, sophisticated: though perhaps multiplex audiences might find it a little too tricksy." Comparing the film to Wright's earlier Pride and Prejudice, Christopher Tookey in the Daily Mail wrote that while that film "was accessible enough to involve a mainstream international audience, I have my doubts about Atonement's ability to do the same." Nevertheless, he remarked, "the film is always gripping." Geoffrey McNab in the Independent calls the movie "a formidable achievement" for director Wright, adding, "The strength of the film lies in its extraordinary visual imagination and in the intensity the young actors bring to their roles." In the Times, James Christopher comments that Knightley's performance gives her "a tilt, at least, at an Oscar nomination." However, he goes on to call the film itself a "grim slog."