On Chesil Beach (2017)

On Chesil Beach
Director: Dominic Cooke
Writer: Ian McEwan
Based on: his own novel
Cast: Billy Howle, Saoirse Ronan, Anne-Marie Duff, Adrian Scarborough, Emily Watson,
Samuel West
Seen on: 5.7.2018

Content note: (sexualized) abuse

Edward (Billy Howle) and Florence (Saoirse Ronan) come from different backgrounds – Edward being working class and Florence more upper class. That hasn’t kept them from falling in love, though. Now they finally got married and have reached the beach where they’re supposed to spend their honeymoon. But with the wedding night and associated pressures looming over them, they are not really at ease.

On Chesil Beach is pretty much feel bad cinema with sharply observed characters and relationships. It wasn’t quite as depressing as I feared it would be, nor was it as good as I hoped it would be. It is very far from bad, though.

Film poster showing Billy Howle and Saoirse Ronan on a beach, looking in opposite directions.
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On Chesil Beach (Ian McEwan)

You gotta love Ian McEwan. Even though all his novels I’ve read are as disappointed, despairing and devastating/-ed as a small girl, whose lolly just got stolen from the clown who promised to find her parents after she lost them because they were fighting because her puppy got run over. (I’m sorry, that analogy sucks. I was just trying to think of the saddest thing ever and that was all I could come up with.) There are some things that really speak for him. Like…

… his prose, which is just wonderful, fitting and insightful.
… his characters are so real, you can actually see them.
… his sadness, which is never cynical.
… his ability to write a book like On Chesil Beach which has a very thin plot but still manages to surprise you and keep you hooked.
… his addictiveness – his books always leave you begging for more, which makes you extra careful to enjoy what you’re reading.

Do I really have to say more?