I was amused to discover that Atonement won an Oscar for Best Original Score…because in viewing the film the other night, I thought the score was the main element that kept the film from being truly outstanding. (A few scenes somehow came across as more familiar on film than they had in the novel, and I really could have done without the enormous MESSAGE COMING IN! of Cecilia’s posture in her watery death.) First of all, while scores are meant to underline a scene’s emotions, this one often did so by a forceful triple set of slashes that no doubt broke the pencil’s lead. A couple scenes in particular had me wishing there was a selective mute button (dialogue and diegetic sound only). And the composer’s device of using the sound of a typewriter as percussion was only cute at first (if marred by being way too high in the mix) but quite clickly became cloying. We get it: writers and writing are a key part of the movie!
I guess Oscar voters must have thought that last bit very clever, and apparently approve of emotional hammering over the head. Too bad: the rest of the movie nicely compressed a novel to the smaller scope of a movie without losing its essence.