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The hype on “Atonement” is that it’s a story about guilt, passion and sex: a crowd-pleasing triumvirate. Though the story does bank on these factors, it’s really an emotional experiment and a literary conceit designed to intrigue the intellect rather than titillate the senses. You shouldn’t really expect any less from a movie based on the Ian McEwan novel of the same title that many critics acclaim as his best — the work that made his name synonymous with “greatest living English writer.”

Director Joe Wright is clearly at ease in McEwan territory, and his “Atonement” bears up to scrutiny well, emulating the author’s prowess at building emotional suspense, and it’s also uncompromising in depicting the pain and mental torture McEwan inflicts on his characters.

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