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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Courtenay church offers free family clothing centre

Every Tuesday afternoon, 1-3 p.m., the Courtenay Fellowship Baptist Church (2963 Lake… Continue reading

Was there a tornado in Courtenay on Monday?

Suspected phone app glitch gives eerie warning

Record produced by Courtenay’s Doug Cox earns Juno nomination

He worked with fiddler April Verch in Nashville on classic country record

No bears destroyed in Cumberland in 2019

WildSafeBC coordinator updates Village on successes and challenges

Uptown Yarns marks 20 years in business in downtown Courtenay

Owner Jennifer Emslie says crafts like knitting are making a comeback

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

Off-duty Nanaimo Mountie takes down would-be ice cream thief

Suspect attempted to steal Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen location on Sunday

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

Nanaimo man hit with pole in dispute over off-leash dog

RCMP say no charges recommended at this time

Work has started on Malahat Skywalk, expected completion in 2021

$15-million project expected to open in spring, 2021

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

New officers elected to Comox Valley Airport Commission

The Comox Valley Airport Commission (CVAC) board of directors has elected Martin… Continue reading

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Courtenay council to discuss bridge cantilevers at its next meeting

At its next meeting, Courtenay council will revisit the idea of including… Continue reading

Most Read