Movie Reviews

On Chesil Beach – A Disjointed Romance Film

Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle Part 2.

Synopsis: Based on Ian McEwan’s novel. 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. (IMDB)

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle, and Emily Watson

Writer: Ian McEwan

Director: Dominic Cooke

Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)

Running Time: 110mins

Trailer:

For showtimes and more, check out On Chesil Beach on movietimes.com.

This film serves as the second recent film featuring Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle as a couple after The Seagull. With the movie industry the way it is, it is unclear which movie was done first but it is hard to deny their growing chemistry. While it was overshadowed by the large cast of The Seagull, it was on full display here. They had the film, based on the novel of the same name, all to themselves, playing a young married couple named Florence and Edward respectively.

Both Florence and Edward were just starting their honeymoon at a hotel by the beach. Florence was a talented violinist and Edward, a university graduate and an aspiring author. On the verge of consummating their marriage, we are shown a series of flashbacks of each of their lives leading to when they first met and fell in love. Coming from the different backgrounds, each lived much different lives with different societal pressures and took these experiences into their marriage. However, the storytelling structure affected the momentum of the plot and left the narrative slightly disjointed.

Florence and Edward were young which made them endearingly awkward with one another as they were experiencing married life for the first time, worsening as the time to consummate their marriage approached. Their marriage would soon come to a crashing halt when the realities of marriage began to set in for both of them. The story begins to fall apart following that fateful moment when the film abruptly transitions into the future, bad aging makeup included. This last section of the film didn’t add that much as we saw where their lives had gone since going their separate ways but their fates were inevitable.

This was a beautiful film to look at thanks to excellent cinematography with the beach scenes being the obvious standouts. Ultimately, this film would not have worked if not for the strong performances from Ronan and Howle and their great chemistry. They were a believable and flawed couple full of insecurities brought to life by each of their incredibly nuanced performances. There was a lot going on under the surface with each of them although it would have been nice to see the story go deeper. There was plenty of emotion on display from each of them with the breakup scene being the best as it was the result of all their pent-up emotions all coming out. This was inevitable but their journey was still compelling to watch. Between Ronan and Howle, Ronan was good as always, however, Howle’s performance stood out more as he had slightly more to do here. At times it felt like the story was more about Edward than it was about Florence.

Overall, this was a good romance film with some beautiful cinematography and whose lack of depth and disjointed story is made up for with the chemistry and excellent performances from Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle.

Score: 8/10

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