Ooohhh, I DID so want to like this one! It has a star-spangled pedigree; book, screenwriter, director, principal actors, etc., why am I not happier with it? For one thing, without captions, it was well nigh impossible to make out what they were saying. For another, the lives of the privileged classes can become tiresome, particularly when the privileged folks are oblivious to their good fortune. For another, this was one of those films that persists in jumping back and forth in time. All of the characters are very earnest, very understated, very self-contained, but it takes very little to see that 12-year-old Briany Tallis is seething with incipient sexual feelings that she doesn't understand.

All of that being said, this sad, beautiful film is a terrific commentary on Truth. By chance, Briany sees two lovers in a passionate, almost violent, embrace. Naturally, from her youthful point of view, it is terrifying and she misinterprets what she has seen. This causes her to tell a lie a little later. That simple lie disrupts three lives beyond atonement.

Saiorse Ronan (you say it, I can't) is the actress who plays the youngest version of Briany. She is absolutely wonderful. Her walk alone, completely defines her character. She is focused, assertive, ambitious and a major busybody. This young girl is currently filming "The Lovely Bones," so clearly, she is going places.

The masculine half of that passionate embrace is played by James McAvoy ("The Last King of Scotland," "The Chronicles of Narnia" - he was the faun - and "Becoming Jane") who has never been more appealing. Brenda Blethyn ("Little Voice" and "Undertaking Betty") is his mother, a housemaid for the wealthy family.

The feminine half of that same embrace is played by Keira Knightley ("Pride and Prejudice" - 2005 - and "Pirates of the Caribbean") who has come a long way from her tomboy role in "Bend it Like Beckham." She is Cecilia Tallis, the older of the two daughters in that wealthy family. I'm a little iffy about her acting abilities, but clearly the director Joe Wright, who worked with her in "Pride and Prejudice," has no doubts.

The film takes you into WWII France at Dunkirk, and all the horrors of WWII hospitals where the grown versions of Briany and Cecilia both toil. Vanessa Redgrave plays the elderly Briany in the denouement, at which time you will come to understand some of the jumping back and forth and the sometimes conflicting scenes you witnessed.

If you have any trouble hearing dialog AT ALL, make a note to order the DVD as soon as it comes out because you WILL need the captions.