On Chesil Beach

On Chesil Beach


A couple's lives change forever on their wedding day in this Ian McEwan (Atonement) adaptation starring Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird) and Billy Howle (Dunkirk).... More

Now on their honeymoon, Florence (Ronan) and Edward (Howle) learn about the differences between them – their attitudes, temperaments and their drastically different backgrounds. Out on the beach on their fateful wedding day, one of them makes a major decision that will utterly change both of their lives forever.Hide

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Flicks Review

Tagged as a romance, but very much of the tears-before-bedtime variety, Dominic Cooke’s eager adaptation of Ian McEwan’s 2007 novella is surprising for the fact that it exists at all.... More

Although the book, which charts the wedding night traumas of a naive young couple in pre-Swinging Sixties England, has plenty of the qualities that usually make for compelling drama, it pivots on a scene of sexual frankness rarely seen in respectable cinema.

Sharply scripted by the author himself, the film introduces Edward (Billy Howle) and Florence (Saorise Ronan) at dinner in a stuffy Dorset hotel, then spins back to explore their courtship, and contrasts. He’s a bumptious country boy looking to escape the boredom of home life; she’s a studious violinist raised in stifling academia. They may be gauche, but the stage is all set for a happy life together. Only it doesn’t quite turn out like that.

Slowly simmering from a comedy of manners to a savage showdown on the eponymous beach, it’s a handsome film, although you can’t help feeling that the lopsided casting is because no male stars of Ronan’s stature wanted to play Edward.

The problem – and it’s a biggie – is one of timing. On the page, 10 years ago, what both characters wanted seemed reasonable, their problems stemming from a mismatch of sexual expectations and an inability to talk about them. Onscreen, however, post-MeToo, we’re essentially watching an angry man berating a crying woman for refusing to f-ck him, and what began as a conversation about sex, becomes a conversation about sexual assault. It’s a necessary one, but the film, like its characters, cannot recover.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

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The Press Reviews

  • It’s a lyrical and rapturous film — a repressed passion play, funny, delicate and heartbreaking. Full Review

  • This film of delicate emotional nuance recounts an enchanting but sad love story. Full Review

  • It is a tender and valuable film, well acted, with a shrewd eye for how naive you can be in your early 20s, how impatient, how pompous, how tragicomically un-self-aware. Full Review

  • Offers up so many tricky tonal changes, enough that Cooke eventually gives them over to a single note: limp. Full Review

  • The text is rich with stylistic flourishes and social observations, and boasts a genuinely wrenching closing sequence. The film, alas, is not. Full Review

  • Even with author Ian McEwan adapting his own novel for the screen, this somewhat stilted picture struggles to convey the deft emotional complexity of the source material. Full Review

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