On Chesil Beach (2017)

On Chesil Beach (2017)

Synopsis – In 1962 England, a young couple find their idyllic romance colliding with issues of sexual freedom and societal pressure, leading to an awkward and fateful wedding night – On Chesil Beach

Director – Dominic Cooke

Starring – Billy Howle, Saoirse Ronan

Genre – Romance | Drama | Historical

Released – 2017

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

If you liked – My Cousin Rachel, Love Rose, Atonement


On Chesil Beach, first of all, is a stunning film to watch, with every shot practically a moving painting, especially when the action takes place outdoors, and the period detail is both handsome and sure to evoke the nostalgia that many feel for the post-war period, aided greatly by a soundtrack filled with Elgar, Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart and Rachmaninov, which matches the movies restrained tone and the characters’ inability to portray their true feelings and desires.

On Chesil Beach (2017)

In terms of the performances, Ronan (Little Women, Lady Bird) was perfectly cast in a very sincere and heartfelt performance that contains enough grit to stop the viewer from disliking some of the decisions that her character chooses in later life. Billy Howe (Dunkirk) also does well with the material, giving the viewer a sympathetic and suitably awkward character that you want to root for. The chemistry grows nicely between the two and is probably the main reason why the rather dry material works so well and I found parts of the plot to be so heart-breaking, after-all, this isn’t a love story, but one about loss and missed opportunities.

This movie is filled with many thought-provoking moments that will stay with the viewer long after the movie ends. this isn’t to say On Chesil Beach doesn’t have imperfections, because it does, the main one being the choppiness of the plot, especially as the movie jumps through the decades in the final third and you lose that slow and careful plot progression you had enjoyed in the first two thirds, with Ronan’s character Florence effectively disappearing from the movie until the end, not explaining some decisions she made during that time that feels out of character.

On Chesil Beach (2017)

In the end, On Chesil Beach is a mixed bag, Ronan and Howe are mesmerizing and the cinematography is stunning, however, the struggle to convert the source material into a coherent movie was clearly too difficult for first-time director Dominic Cooke, leading me to believe that the only way to truly experience and understand the story of Florence and Edward is Ian McEwan’s novella.

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