Unlikable Women: Briony Tallis — owl machine

Unlikable women: short list; Elle Driver **Having never read the book the movie Atonement is based on, I can only talk about the movie version of the character. **I only have jumbled thoughts about her as well, so, proceed at your own risk. **spoilers for Atonement I don’t really think Briony is an unlikable woman, […]

Unlikable Women: Briony Tallis — owl machine

Here’s a fascinating post about Briony Tallis, who continues to be one of my favourite fictional characters ever written. (Even if the man who wrote her ended up, sigh, being a disappointment.)

I love me some unlikeable women.

Happy International Women’s Day!

To celebrate the occasion, here’s some of my favourite ladies from fiction!

Row 1: Amy Pond (Doctor Who), Sephy Hadley (Noughts and Crosses), Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy/MCU), Rose Tico (Star Wars), Elsa (Frozen/Disney), Melissa Chartres (The Last Man on Earth)

Row 2: Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings/Middle Earth), Quinn Ergon (Final Space), The Thirteenth Doctor (Doctor Who), Princess Bubblegum (Adventure Time), Jane Foster (Thor/MCU), Amy Santiago (Brooklyn 99)

Row 3: Brook Soso (Orange is the New Black), Nebula (Guardians of the Galaxy/MCU), Erica Dundee (The Last Man on Earth), Kitty Winter (Sherlock Holmes), Rose Tyler (Doctor Who), Briony Tallis (Atonement)

Row 4: Meredith Quill (Guardians of the Galaxy/MCU), Missandei (Game of Thrones), Rey (Star Wars), Donna Noble (Doctor Who), Carol Pilbasian (The Last Man on Earth), Esmeralda (The Hunchback of Notre Dame/Disney)

Row 5: Sansa Stark (Game of Thrones), Ash Graven (Final Space), Tiana (The Princess and the Frog/Disney), Sophia Burset (Orange is the New Black), Misty (Pokemon), Clara Oswald (Doctor Who)

Row 6: Bill Potts (Doctor Who), Mary Brown (Paddington), Mako Mori (Pacific Rim), Gwen Stacy (Spider-Man), Jackie Tyler (Doctor Who), Ursula Ditkovich (Spider-Man)

Row 7: Yaz Khan (Doctor Who), Mary Jane Watson (Spider-Man), Marceline (Adventure Time), Michelle (10 Cloverfield Lane,), Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow/MCU), Mantis (Guardians of the Galaxy (MCU)

Row 8: Eponine Thenardier (Les Miserables), Mabel Pines (Gravity Falls), Sandra Kaluiokalani (Superstore), Padme Amidala (Star Wars), Martha Jones (Doctor Who), Jasmine (Aladdin/Disney)

Row 9: Beru Whitesun (Star Wars), Nakia (Black Panther/MCU), Diana (Wonder Woman), Chummy Browne (Call the Midwife), Rosa Diaz (Brooklyn 99), Leia Organa (Star Wars)

A Movie Meme

(image from here)

I found this prompt meme at coffee, classics, & craziness and I’m joining in! Yay!


#1 Use a different movie for each prompt
#2 Add photos and/or explanations of how your choices fit the prompts
#3 Tag a few friends to play along

Let’s see what we got.

1. A Partridge in a Pear Tree — movie that involves agriculture

OH NO. Okay… Hmm. WAIT! My husband just HANDED ME the most obvious answer. The Martian, a space movie which I love, all about a guy who survives on Mars by growing potatoes. (It’s much, much more interesting than I make it sound there.)

Home to a really good line about humanity and the world:

“Every human being has a basic instinct: to help each other out. If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do.”

2. Turtledoves — movie about a long-lasting relationship

Back in 2007 this movie ripped my heart out, stamped on it, put it back in, then kicked it upwards through my brain and out my head.

I speak of course of Atonement, the tale of a doomed romance and some beautiful, beautiful dresses. In the end, Robbie and Cecilia can’t survive World War II or the British class system. (Yeah, the British class system, not Briony, is the villain of this story.) But Briony ensures via her writing that they have a long-lasting relationship anyway, and I cry.

3. French Hens — movie that takes place in France

Okay, it’s a toss-up between two movies here, both based on works by Victor Hugo: Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables. And… despite the fact that it has virtually nothing at all to do with the book… I think Hunchback juuuust takes it, because it’s a gorgeous, interesting, progressive-for-Disney film, and I love it.

I can’t even choose one shot from this movie so just have the opening one. And hey! The titular church didn’t burn down this year! It’s still there!

4. Calling Birds — movie where people talk on the phone

Okay, I’m gonna stretch the definition of “phone” a bit here and show you something from The Phantom Menace:

Qui-Gon’s space phone (commlink, sorry) is actually a Gillette Ladies Sensor Excel Razor, or a close approximation of. THIS MOVIE COST 115 MILLION DOLLARS. I love it.

5. Golden Rings — movie with multiple romances

There could only ever be one choice here.

I’m sorry I knoooooow Love Actually probably isn’t really all that great as a movie and it’s so cheesy and corny and up-itself but I love it. It’s like a warm Christmas hug. (And I don’t even really like Christmas, so…)

6. Geese A-laying — movie with a birth or that features babies

So before there was Baby Yoda, there was this equally adorable fella:

And I think his presence is enough to qualify Guardians of the Galaxy 2 as a film that features babies. No births though, unless you count the birth of a god or the birthing chamber stuff on the gold planet or various “rebirths” of characters. Wait… GOTG2 is surprisingly birth-metaphors-heavy actually. Who knew.

7. Swans A-swimming — movie where someone goes swimming

Okay, so maybe this isn’t so much “someone goes swimming” as it is “someone tries to swim and nearly drowns” but…

I can still remember the music from that bit in Fellowship of the Ring after all this time. My god, the last quarter of that movie kicks all kind of ass and tramples on my feelings, I love it so.

“I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise. Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee. And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to.”

8. Maids A-milking — movie with cows

Okay, this can only be Children of Men. (A film that I very nearly put at #6.) Why? At the film’s pivotal moment we get this beautiful, striking scene featuring a whole lotta cows.

I think it’s meant to be reminiscent of Mary in the manger. And I love it so much. Please watch Children of Men, it’s so harrowing but so good, it’s amazing, I promise.

9. Ladies Dancing — movie with a dance scene

AM I GONNA DO IT? YEAH I’M GONNA DO IT. I’m gonna put Spider-Man 3 in here. Yes, that one.

But not for that dance scene… or even that one. You know the much-derided ones I mean. The one I like is this one:

Harry Osborn (in his various incarnations) is my Second Favourite Fictional Character Of All Time, and Mary Jane is pretty high up the list as well, so it was nice to see them have a moment of happiness before one of them dies. Honestly, that’s it. (I unapologetically love Spider-Man 3, even if only for Harry. I admit it. I’m sorry. No wait, no I’m not.)

10. Lords A-leaping — movie about athletes

Aw dang… I’m not good at this genre. But I do really like Noel Clarke’s Fast Girls and no-one else seems to have seen it, so I’m putting it here. I really need to watch it again actually. It suffers from Unnecessary Forced Heterosexual Romance In An Almost All-Woman Film Syndrome but eh, what doesn’t.

(Yeah, the Noel Clarke from Doctor Who. And yes, that is a pre-mega-fame Lily James.)

11. Pipers Piping — movie with someone playing a musical instrument

Wait, NOW I can get Les Miserables in here. During the very start of the “Drink With Me” scene Grantaire (my First Favourite Fictional Character of all time) starts running his hands over a broken piano.

It doesn’t make any sound of course, but that’s so much more poignant than if it had.

12. Drummers Drumming — movie with characters in the military

I don’t really get to go to the cinema much these days but one film I did see this year was Tolkien, which kinda delves in a little into how Tolkien’s experiences in the First World War inspired his writings.

It didn’t get very good reviews, to my surprise, and I suppose the dispute with Tolkien’s descendants definitely didn’t help, but I liked it. It definitely didn’t shy away when depicting the horrors of World War I.

And that’s that…

You should definitely do this meme if you want to! In fact, please do!


This is one costume that people still talk about, 10 years later, as one of their absolute favorites and most memorable. Why do you think that is?

It has unbelievably resonated. When we started making the movie, we all knew it was a pivotal moment and it had to be a memorable dress. Joe said that to me, right at the beginning, which was obviously a lot of pressure on me to try and make this memorable dress. But we didn’t know, really. It was a complete surprise how much it did resonate with people and how much it was picked out as a single look from the movie. Most of the other costumes that Keira wore are not talked about at all. It has surprised me, and it’s surprised me that people still remember it.

Atonement 10th anniversary: The inside story on that iconic green dress (x)


“Everything’s pattern on pattern on pattern— the chairs and the seat coverings and the wallpapers and the costumes…. Something that we wanted to build into the opening section was that it was very verdant and over-textured, as opposed to the later section where things become a lot sparser.” — Joe Wright, Atonement (2007) director’s commentary.


“One day, kind of as a joke, I said: ‘Remember that shot we did in Pride & Prejudice, the long Steadicam shot? Wouldn’t it be cool if we did that on the beach?’ Everyone laughed, but the joke then turned into something dauntingly real.”Joe Wright



“Someone asked me before ‘What makes a costume iconic?’ It’s really only partly the costume designer. It’s really about Keira wearing it, at that moment, looking the way she does. The way that it’s framed. How Joe uses it. How it fits in the story. All those things make it something… It’s made to be at that moment in the movie, and its greatness comes from all those elements at the same time. I didn’t know it would be so good, you can’t know!”
Jacqueline Durran, costume designer for Atonement (2007).



Fictional characters who shaped my life (not in any order): Briony Tallis

I think people are scared of Briony, y’know. She failed to grasp the notion that other people were as real as her, that was her big mistake, and we’ve all been there. She thought she was doing right, or at least not doing wrong, but she messed up badly and we’ve all been there. She lived in a society where a man can rape a teenage girl and suffer no negative repercussions at all, and…

…we’ve all been there.

Anyway. James McAvoy thinks she’s rotting in hell, which causes me to wonder where exactly Paul Marshall is in that case. And also to wonder what Luc Cornet would have thought of that, because Briony was a good nurse and she lied to him when he was dying, the good comforting kind of lie. Briony went on to marry another Frenchman, actually, her marriage didn’t make it into the movie but got one sentence (one sentence!) in the book. I wonder how much her husband knew. I bet he loved her anyway. I hope he did.

Briony’s telling of Robbie and Cecilia’s story was also the good comforting kind of lie, and one that casts her (or did she cast herself?) as the architect of their destruction – but it wasn’t all her fault. Most of it is Paul Marshall’s fault, although he seems to get a pass for reasons Benedict Cumberbatch himself would be very disappointed in. Briony accused the wrong man, yes, but Cecilia and Robbie themselves came close to doing the same (“I suppose we owe an apology to Able Seaman Hardman”) and she was a child, thirteen years old, not even old enough to understand what she saw in the library.

Briony could have been anyone; could have been me. One fuzzy memory, one fear, one moment of ego and it’s all over. She was so busy being the hero of her own story she forgot she was also the supporting character of someone else’s. Scary, isn’t it?

She’s eventually punished in what must be the worst way imaginable for her: she’s a writer, a storyteller, but the dementia she’s been diagnosed with will cause her to lose all her stories- all her memories will fade away, and slowly. She was punished disproportionate to her crime, I think. She had a massive god complex- that was what caused her to try and give the characters Cecilia and Robbie a happy ending, while she could do nothing for the real people- but she tried to atone for it. To people like Luc and Fiona (do you know, I actually ship Briony/Fiona a little) she was a good person. And she never forgave herself for what she did, not even in her retelling of events, where she could have twisted the truth and didn’t.

She was arrogant and selfish and in many ways she wasn’t brave, but I don’t think she’s in hell. Or she’d better bloody not be.

Been re-watching Atonement today

Can I just say how I love, love, love how both the first and last shots of the movie are of a dollhouse