Rob Reviews "On Chesil Beach"
In Dominic Cooke’s “On Chesil Beach,” he adapts Ian McEwan’s novel (which McEwan also turned into the screenplay), Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle team up to tell the story of a young married couple on their wedding night where secrets come to light and two people who thought they knew each other completely realize they have a lot to learn about themselves and each other.
On the surface, I knew going in that this would not be the “feel good” movie of the year, and I cannot say that this is two hours of my life that I necessarily want back. However, there is only one way I can describe this film, and I do not believe I have ever used this phrase when giving my opinion publicly on anything pop culture in over twenty years of doing so.
“On Chesil Beach” is simply… REALLY British. And REALLY 1962 British.
With its story almost completely told in flashback, this is not a film that one can necessarily leave on in the background and keep up. There ARE layers to the story that are revealed in their own time, but by the same token, it also suffers from too much flashback. Granted, this is not as bad as “Carlito’s Way,” (and I know I am in the minority in my dislike for that film here), but I can see it from there. Ronan and Howle do a very good job at bringing McEwan’s pages to life with strong performances that push each other to their next level, understanding that they have to carry this story, but it was just not enough for me to say that I enjoyed this film. Given the odd way I had to attach my thoughts to this film and the time frame that it takes place in, it just didn’t do that much for me.
Given the nature of its story and the lack of true movement, I wonder if “On Chesil Beach” would be better suited as a stage production of some form. It might take a bit of retooling to translate certain things that a camera just is able to do better, but from a filmgoing standpoint, it just falls short.