Briony Tallis,13-year-old girl from a wealthy English family has a childish infatuation with Robbie Turner, played by James McAvoy, a servant’s son. When she finds out he’s attracted to her older sister, Cecilia, played by Kiera Knightly, she’s so jealous she tells a lie that changes their lives forever. She tells everyone (including the police) that she saw Robbie rape her cousin, Lola. She shows them a shocking love letter that Robbie meant for Cecilia. Everyone believes her story except for Cecilia and Robbie’s mother; Robbie is arrested and sent to prison.

Four years later, Robbie is released from prison on condition that he join the army. After reuniting in London with Cecilia who is estranged from her family, they renew their love before he is shipped off to the French front. Briony, now 18, attempts to make things right with her sister, but fails. Robbie dies at Dunkirk of while awaiting evacuation and Cecilia dies a few months later in a bombing during the blitz.

Briony must live with her lie. She becomes a published author and writes a story about Cecilia and Robbie in the hopes that by reuniting them in fiction she can give them the happy ending they always deserved. The last scene of the movie shows a happy Cecilia and Robbie together once again as imagined by Briony.

English High TeaTea Time (something Briony’s family would observe)

Afternoon tea consisted of things like freshly baked scones, served with cream and jam and known as cream tea, thinly sliced cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off, and assorted pastries. Even though it’s available at many the many tea rooms in England, it’s no longer a common thing, because it interfered with the schedules of working class people.

It became popular during the 1800s when the wealthy began to invite friends for an afternoon cup of tea and began to offer guests sandwiches and cakes. Before long it became something expected. Traditional high tea was served between five and seven o’clock at a time when most people these days eat their dinner or supper. The meal combined sweets such as scones, cakes, buns or tea breads with things like cheese on toast, toasted crumpets, cold meats and pickles or poached eggs on toast.