Atonement posterThe best grown-up film of the year opens today. Atonement is directed by up-and-comer Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice) and is adapted from the acclaimed novel by Ian McEwan. 12 year old Briony Tallis (played by Saoirse Ronan from Peter Jackson’s forthcoming The Lovely Bones) tells a terrible lie, condemning family friend Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) to prison and disgrace and her sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley) to heartbreak and loss. It takes a lifetime for Briony to atone. Atonement is playing at the Embassy, Readings, Penthouse, Lighthouse Petone and the Empire Island Bay.

New Zealand vampire thriller Perfect Creature gets a long-awaited cinema release, more than two years after completion. Directed by Glenn Standring (The Irrefutable Truth About Demons) and starring imports Dougray Scott and Saffron Burrowns along with locals Scott Wills and Robbie Magasiva, Perfect Creature offers us an alternative New Zealand known as Nuovo Zelandia where vampires and humans peacefully co-exist – until the balance is challenged by a renegade vampire known as Edgar (Leo Gregory). Readings, Embassy and Sky City Queensgate.

A kinder, gentler option is provided by Conversations With My Gardener from director Jean Becker (Children of the Marshlands). Daniel Auteuil plays an artist who returns to the family home to escape a messy divorce and renews a friendship with the old school mate (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) who tends his veggie garden. Penthouse and Lighthouse Petone.

Finally, the Italian Film Festival kicked off with a gala shindig at the Paramount last night. It runs for a fortnight and there’s plenty to keep you entertained.

Atonement and Conversations With My Gardener are reviewed at Funerals & Snakes, to be joined next week by Perfect Creature.