I thought Atonement was an incredibly depressing movie, but still - this article makes me want to watch it again:
" They say stick to what you know. Funny, then, that in Atonement, James McAvoy delivers one of the most seamless, devastating performances of the year by doing precisely the reverse. In the film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s best-seller (out this month but already earning rave reviews in the UK), McAvoy plays Robbie Turner, a groundskeeper’s son in repressed 1930s England who’s falsely accused of rape. It’s an impressive departure from his turn as Idi Amin’s doctor in The Last King of Scotland. And, he claims, the hardest thing he’s ever tried.
"All the characters I’ve played before have been more like me: slightly conflicted, or assholes or dickheads or whatever," says the 28-year-old Scot. "But Robbie Turner isn’t fighting against himself at all. He is wholly good—a classic leading man. And I’m certainly not like that."
Reading this, you might get the impression that Robbie Turner’s a sap or at least a total bore. He isn’t. That’s what makes McAvoy’s performance so revelatory. McAvoy makes Turner complex—vulnerable but scrappy, entitled but humble, lighthearted but intense. We believe in his buoyancy even as the world pulls him down.
In real life, McAvoy’s been finding himself a long way from his own difficult beginnings: the Glasgow housing project where he was brought up by his grandparents, the months he spent icing supermarket cakes on the graveyard shift while he put himself through drama school. So what does he do for fun? “I’ve kind of fallen in love with baseball,” he says. “When I was in America this summer, I got to see the Chicago Cubs. The fans are so low-key. They reminded me of a bunch of lads sitting in the living room watching snooker. And the fact that opposing fans are allowed to sit with each other? In Britain, if that happened, you’d have your head ripped off. I was amazed.” “