Acting style in Atonement

Quite a few of you have noticed the way that the main characters speak in the film. In the film’s production notes director Joe Wright said he wanted the cast to act in that style because, “The actors in 1930s and 1940s movies had a naturalism to their performances. I wanted to recapture that with this cast; I showed them Rebecca, Brief Encounter – which James and Keira particularly adore – and In Which We Serve, to name a few.”

Keira Knightley reveals, “Joe would direct us to deliver our lines swiftly; he wanted the dialogue scenes to play as they did in classic British movies. He likened it to rain pattering down, or bullets firing. Doing that informed our performances and showed us who our characters were; it was exciting to play, because that particular style of speaking is now lost. It’s like doing an accent, yet it made everything easier.”

James McAvoy laughs, “Keira just flew with that style of acting. For the rest of us, it took a little bit longer!

The first clip I have added is the final scene from the British classic Brief Encounter. Brief Encounter is a classic romantic drama set in 1945 during WWII in and around the fictional Milford railway station. In a cafe at the railway station, housewife Laura Jesson meets doctor Alec Harvey. Although they are already married, they gradually fall in love with each other. They continue to meet every Thursday on the small cafe, although they know that their love is impossible.

The clip below is Victoria Wood’s parody of Brief Encounter.

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