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

Pregnant Cariboo firefighter tries to save own house from blaze

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Road report for Highway 20

Fog patches and slippery sections; Drive BC

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

Mining company prospecting for gold near Bella Coola

Gold discovered in alpine areas where glaciers are receding

‘Tripod’ delays access to Unist’ot’en camp

Social media rumours of cultural significance quashed, meaning police “exclusion zones” should end.

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

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

Chiasson nets shootout winner as Oilers edge Canucks 3-2

Edmonton moves one point ahead of Vancouver

B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

Hereditary chief: no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Truck hauling compressed gas for ‘virtual pipeline’ crashes on B.C. highway

Driver charged and highway closed for nine hours - containers did not rupture

Most Read