James McAvoy as Robbie Turner
Directed by: Joe Wright
Written By: Ian McEwan (novel), Christopher Hampton (screenplay)
Release: 7 September 2007 (UK)
Genre: Drama | Romance | War
Co-Stars: Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Ramola Garai
On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching Cecilia is their housekeeper’s son Robbie Turner, a childhood friend who, along with Briony’s sister, has recently graduated from Cambridge.
By the end of that day the lives of all three will have been changed forever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had never before dared to approach and will have become victims of the younger girl’s scheming imagination, and Briony will have committed a dreadful crime, the guilt for which will colour her entire life.
James McAvoy considered the script the best he had ever read.
Joe Wright conducted three weeks of rehearsals beforehand, ensuring that by the time the cameras rolled all the actors were comfortable with their characters and the environment they inhabited.
Robbie Turner: [voiceover] Dearest Cecilia, the story can resume. The one I had been planning on that evening walk. I can become again the man who once crossed the surrey park at dusk, in my best suit, swaggering on the promise of life. The man who, with the clarity of passion, made love to you in the library. The story can resume. I will return. Find you, love you, marry you and live without shame.
Cecilia Tallis: [crying] I don’t know how I could’ve been so ignorant about myself… so… so stupid. And you know what I’m talking about, don’t you? You knew before I did.
Robbie Turner: Why’re you crying?
Cecilia Tallis: Don’t you know?
Robbie Turner: Yes, I know exactly.
Robbie Turner: [about the letter he sent her] It was a mistake.
Cecilia Tallis: Briony read it.
Robbie Turner: I’m so sorry, it was the wrong version.
Cecilia Tallis: Yes.
Robbie Turner: It was never meant to be read.
Cecilia Tallis: No. What was in the version I was meant to read?
Robbie Turner: Don’t know… it was more formal, and less…
Cecilia Tallis: Anatomical?
Robbie Turner: Yes.
Robbie Turner: Have you been in touch with your family?
Cecilia Tallis: No I told you I wouldn’t. Leon waited outside the hospital last week. I just pushed past him.
Robbie Turner: Cee, you don’t owe me anything.
Cecilia Tallis: Robbie didn’t you read my letters? Had I been allowed to visit you? Had they let me, every day, I would have been there every day.
Robbie Turner: Yes but, if all we have rests on a few moments in a library three and a half years ago then I am not sure, I don’t know…
Cecilia Tallis: Robbie, look at me, come back, come back to me.
Cecilia Tallis: Robbie…
Robbie Turner: Cecilia…
Cecilia Tallis: I love you…
Robbie Turner: I love you.