Wandering ‘On Chesil Beach’

By Therese Gardner, Edited by Anthony Peyton

On Chesil Beach is a beautifully frustrating film adapted by Ian McEwan based on his novel of the same name that follows a young couple during the summer of 1962 as they explore life as newlyweds.

It is mid-summer when Edward (performed by Billy Howle) and Florence (performed by Saoirse Ronan) have just been married and are spending their honeymoon at Chesil Beach. The first scene follows the young couple as they take a leisurely walk along Chesil Beach holding hands and appearing seemingly in love until they return to the hotel and things begin to fall apart.

It becomes clear that both Edward and Florence come from vastly different backgrounds as they desire different things and have opposite expectations for how things should be as a married couple. This difference in expectation is first alluded to when Edward wishes to consummate the marriage while Florence does not wish to, as she is fearful of what may happen. As the movie progresses, the tension present between Florence and Edward only seems to magnify as Florence becomes more frustrated, even slightly angered and Edward becomes more passionate.

Just when Edward and Florence are about to consummate the marriage, Florence makes clear she is still not interested and becomes further frustrated with Edward for being insensitive to her needs. While McEwan lacked in effectively exploring the reasons for Florence’s anxiety, Ronan gave an incredible performance that allowed the audience to understand Florence on a deeper level.

Even though McEwan directed this movie based on his own novel, the film did not appear to fully explain the details necessary for understanding both Edward’s perspective as well as Florence’s perspective in a manner that the novel would have. This is partly due to the fact that a film can only be so long and is not able to explain the brevity of a story.

McEwan definitely struggled to fill in the hidden details and rushed the film by focusing largely on the beginning of their marriage and then suddenly skipping ahead to a few years later when Edward and Florence are older. There is a lack of consistency and authenticity with the details McEwan decided to include and the details he decided not to include. Despite the discrepancies between the novel and the film, it was still a poignantly beautiful, yet fragile film that I highly recommend for others to watch.


My Rating: 83.1%

Acting: 3.5/4

Cinematography: 3.8/4

Story: 2.5/4

Enjoyability: 3.5/4

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