So last week we went to see the adaptation of Ian McEwan’s Atonement on another one of our free film previews. Of course, you should never see a film adapted from a book you’ve read and enjoyed, and so, inevitably, I was hugely disappointed.
The first hour of the film–the part set at the Tallis house in 1935–is really effective, but once the action skips forward to the war scenes for the second half, the film loses its way completely. My watch told me that the second half of the film only lasted an hour, but with the direction suddenly so plodding and pedestrian, it could easily have been two… [At one point, Joe Wright devotes about 10 minutes of screen time to an impressive-looking but ultimately pointless sweeping, tracking shot showing the carnage on the beach at Dunkirk. Quite what this has to do with the story, I couldn’t tell–I couldn’t help wondering whether they’d just spent so much money making this that they couldn’t bring themselves to leave any of it on the cutting room floor, even though it doesn’t add anything to the film.]
But apparently we can’t escape this film, because this evening on our way across Leicester Square to get to another free film screening (the Russell Crowe/Christian Bale remake of 3:10 To Yuma, which unexpectedly turned out to be rather good fun), we stumbled across the première of Atonement on the other side of the square, so we stopped to have a look. Clearly a lot of people had come to Leicester Square specifically to see some famous people going to the cinema, and as we peered over the crowds to see what was going on, we could hear occasional squeals of delight from the crowd. You could almost tell how famous the person who’d just got out of the car was by the volume of the squeal. We did get to see James McAvoy and Benedict Cumberbatch standing around while people took their photographs, but missed Keira (although I’m pretty sure we heard the crowd appreciatively whooping at her ability to get out of a car and walk towards a cinema).
Not all the cast arrived by car, though. I almost felt a bit sorry for actor Daniel Mays, who wasn’t apparently important enough for the film company to drive him there. After we’d got bored of trying to spot celebrities, we’d left to get to the Panton Street Odeon where our screening was, and almost bumped into him as he walked past in the other direction, all DJ-ed up.
“He’s famous”, whispered Sal to me, as he passed us.
I knew she was right, but for a second I couldn’t quite place him. And then I realised that he’s actually in the film.
As there’s a tube strike on at the moment, I wonder if he had to get there on the bus? Perhaps that’s why he was late…