It still manages to hold a keen sense of anxiety, social misinterpretation and a passion for love
Taken from Ian McEwan’s book of the same name, On Chesil Beach is the story of a young couple, spending their first married night together. A heart-wrenching and eye-opening look into the sexual nature of young couples, with a backdrop of 1960’s Britain, the film discusses what it is like losing virginity in the most pressurised of situations.
The social understanding behind the film is incredible as it manages to transform McEwan’s original, introverted text, into a methodical and well-paced motion picture. The book relies heavily on thoughts and self evaluation, and with this being such a difficult theme to transfer onto a film reel, director Dominic Cooke naturally needed to take a new approach.
The end result may well be more formulaic and structured, but it still manages to hold a keen sense of anxiety, social misinterpretation and a passion for love. It’s often noted how films portray fake ‘Hollywood Romances’ but On Chesil Beach focuses on becoming the opposite, displaying a tough and overbearing young love instead.
The passion is all there, and ultimately it stands up when it needs to. Guarded by two impressively emotive performances, the story is slow to reveal itself which perhaps works better in the limited novel, rather than beefing out a full feature length film. It’s no less interesting or thought-provoking, but it certainly seems overly drawn out in the broader sense of film making.
Ronan and Howle are powerful and convincing, passionately supplying the emotional substance On Chesil Beach’s story relies on, without, perhaps, supplying the full climax the novel so effortlessly passes out. It is certainly a quality retelling, but not necessarily one that offers the story any form of a new meaning.
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