Keira, as we all know, should eat more pies. In ‘Atonement’, however, she reciprocates very well, in her lo-fat frame, the torrents of yearning addressed in my previous post. The film, initially, is set in the late 30s but such is its costumer style (Joe Wright previously directed ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (2005)) that it’s easy at times to feel that we are in a generic past, a large part of which is dominated by the established ‘TV-look’ of the 19th century. Keira’s slightness of build then becomes not only an upper class affliction but evidence of tuberculosis – she is the palely interesting consumptive of 19th century romance.
Those who yearn are consumed by their yearning and, given half a chance, would vampirically consume the object of their yearning. The character of Cecilia (Keira) is the object of Robbie’s (James McAvoy) protracted yearning – she becomes Robbie’s pie. It is, therefore, fitting that she is very thin for it suggests that she has already been consumed by Robbie, who has enjoyed a semi-sibling relationship with Cecilia since her father took him under his wing.
Several years must pass before Robbie can get this stuff off his chest among fighting men. Mortified by his gobbling of his patron’s daughter, Robbie goes for a long walk into war, ending up in a less complicated but more poetic scene in which his yearning finds satisfaction in slaughter.