Film Review: On Chesil Beach

Saoirse Ronan continues to shine in adaptation Ian McEwan novel about young newlyweds on their wedding day

How awkward can first love be on a wedding day?

Ian McEwan’s screen adaptation of his own novel On Chesil Beach, shows it can be plenty awkward when newlyweds Florence Ponting, played by Saoirse Ronan and Edward Mayhew, played by Billy Howle, settle into a dapper hotel to consummate a relationship neither truly understands.

It’s England in 1962 and humble history student Edward Mayhew has fallen in love with talented young musician Florence Ponting, whose family brandishes a more affluent lifestyle than his own.

The obvious social and relationship challenges seeping from the mores of class and upbringing aren’t anything we haven’t seen before. However Forence’s parents, played beautifully by Samuel West and Emily Watson, provide the dissonance without feeling trite.

First-time film director Dominic Cooke’s deft storytelling crafts the foundation of their budding relationship through flashbacks, each scene a subtle brick layered quietly as their relationship grows. Until you begin to realize the world he’s built around Edward and Florence, has trapped them both.

Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird, Atonement) is well, Saoirse Ronan. The words ‘up-and-coming’ no longer apply and the Irish-American actor has not only arrived, she’s long left many behind as one of the best young actors on the screen. To say she steals scenes as the newlywed’s relationship unfurls is a disservice. She is the scene, every one of them and that’s no disrespect to Howle (Dunkirk), whose performance holds it’s own walking a fine dramatic line without being overly earnest.

McEwan’s (Atonement, The Good Son) screenplay reads quietly, the writing favouring muted hues, over the intensity of bold primary colours. While some may cry sacrilege for watching the film before reading the novel or say the book has a lot to live up to before reading it, but I say that anyway.

On Chesil Beach begins with a conversation between two newlyweds strolling along a beautiful rocky shoreline. “This is the emotional punch,” Edward Mayhew says to Florence only moments in.

He may as well have been talking about the film.

4/5

Elevation Pictures releases On Chesil Beach June 1.

arnold.lim@blackpress.ca

 

Just Posted

Cost of living going up while wages are going down in Tofino and Ucluelet

The Clayoquot Biosphere Trust’s Vital Signs Report shows need to diversify economy.

Extreme waves and king tides expected around Tofino and Ucluelet this weekend

Extreme wave hazard warning at the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Strong winds up to 100 km/h for parts of Vancouver Island

Wind warning in effect for north, east and west Vancouver Island into Saturday morning

Ucluelet says goodbye to town’s only sports bar

“It started off big and we’re on the backside of the mountain now.”

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Speaker Darryl Plecas’ report details ‘flagrant overspending’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Suspect allegedly armed with handgun robs Island gas station

Incident occurred Sunday night in Nanaimo

Most Read