Synopsis: SPOILER: When Briony Tallis, 13 years old and an aspiring writer, sees her older sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner at the fountain in front of the family estate she misinterprets what is happening thus setting into motion a series of misunderstandings and a childish pique that will have lasting repercussions for all of them. Robbie is the son of a family servant toward whom the family has always been kind. They paid for his time at Cambridge and now he plans on going to medical school. After the fountain incident, Briony reads a letter intended for Cecilia and concludes that Robbie is a deviant. When her cousin Lola is raped, she tells the police that it was Robbie she saw committing the deed.
Director(s): Joe Wright
Production: Focus Features
  Won 1 Oscar. Another 50 wins & 146 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
123 min


- I finished my play.

- Well done.

Have you seen Mummy?

Well, she'll be in the drawing room, I expect.

I hope you're not gonna be getting under

our feet today, Miss Briony.

We got a dinner for 10 to prepare.

- Hello, pal, I hear you're putting on a play.

- Who told you?

Jungle drums.

- Will you come and see it?

- I'm not sure that would be quite...

Why don't you let me read it?

You used to make me those beautiful

bound copies of all your stories.

- I've kept them all.

- I still want you to come.

- Let's see.

- I have to go now.

Mummy, I need you!

Stupendous. It's stupendous, darling.

Your first play.

Do you think so?

Do you think Leon will like it?

Well, of course he will.

The Trials of Arabella, by Briony Tallis.


- Yes?

What do you think it would feel like

to be someone else?

Cooler, I should hope.

- I'm worried about the play.

- I'm sure it's a masterpiece.

But we only have the afternoon to rehearse.

What if the twins can't act?

You have to be nice to them.

I wonder how'd you feel if your mother

had run off with Mr What's-his-name

who reads the news on the wireless?

Perhaps I should have written Leon a story.

If you write a story, you only have to

say the word "castle," and you could see

the towers and the woods

and the village below, but...

In a play, it's...

It all depends on other people.

- Cee.

- Yes?

Why don't you talk to Robbie any more?

I do.

We just move in different circles, that's all.

- Do we have to do a play?

- Why do we have to?

- It's to celebrate my brother Leon's visit.

I hate plays.

So do I.

- How can you hate plays?

- It's just showing off.

- You'll be in this play or you'll get a clout.

- And I'll tell the parents.

You're not allowed to clout us.

We're guests in this house. And what did

the parents say we were to make ourselves?

- Well, Pierrot?

- Amenable.

- Jackson?

- Amenable.

Amenable, that's right.

Now, Briony, what's your play about?

Well, it's about how

love is all very well,

but you have to be sensible.

- I suppose you're going to be Arabella.

- Well, not necessarily.

- In that case, do you mind if I play her?

Lola was in the school play.

Do say yes. It'd be the first decent thing

to happen to me in months.

Well, yes, all right.

I suppose we should start by reading it.

If you're going to be Arabella, then I'll be

the director, thank you very much.


I'm going to do the prologue.


"This is the tale of spontaneous Arabella,

"who ran away with an extrinsic fellow.

"It grieved her parents to see their firstborn

"evanesce from her home

to go to Eastbourne."


- Nothing. Just thought I'd watch.

Rehearsals are private, I'm afraid.

You can see the play this evening.

- I'll have to work then.

- Well, I'm sorry, Danny.

Can we go for a swim now?

Yes, yes, yes!

- No, I don't really think there's time!

Cecilia will let us.

I'm sure a half-hour break

would do us all good.

Cecilia? Cecilia!


Cecilia! Cecilia, Cecilia.

Please, can we go for a swim, Cecilia?

Yes, I don't see why not.

Don't go out of your depth!

Can you do me

one of your Bolshevik roll-ups?

Beautiful day.

- I suppose so. Too hot for me.

- Are you enjoying your book?

- No, not really.

It gets better.

I prefer Fielding any day.

Much more passionate.

- Leon's coming down today, did you know?

- I heard a rumour.

He's bringing a friend with him.

It's Paul Marshall, the chocolate millionaire.

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Christopher Hampton

Christopher James Hampton, CBE, FRSL (born 26 January 1946) is a British playwright, screenwriter, translator and film director. He is best known for his play based on the novel Les Liaisons dangereuses and the film version Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and also more recently for writing the nominated screenplay for the film adaptation of Ian McEwan's Atonement. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Atonement" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 21 Oct. 2021. <>.

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