I've never really been one of the novel's legion of adoring fans and Joe Wright and Christopher Hampton's adaptation has most of the source's faults plus a few more of its own.
Essentially the plot and the key characters have the classic outline without much of the necessary filling, something which the casting of Keira Knightley has only served to emphasise.
We are given no real reason to care about any of these people. Yes, we sense the injustice that has befallen Robby, but the suspicion remains that Fritz is as much to blame as Briony for the bad way things pan out!
The mid-movie scenes set in a wartime hospital comes across here as even more phoney and pointless than the equivalent section of the text. The coda, in which Anthony Minghella interviews Vanessa Redgrave as the atoning novelist doesn't really work cinematically either, so, to some extent as in the novel, it's really the country house set-up scenes that are left to carry the overall imaginative impact.
Unable to afford a Stuka-bombed flight to Dunkirk, Wright gives us a long traveling shot on the beach incorporating the maximum allowable number of extras. This felt very staged and artficial to me, and set me thinking about a video V once made of me strolling towards the camera whilst several of her nieces and nephews performed somersaults and other strange contortions both in front and in the background.