CCFF 2018: On Chesil Beach

Saoirse Ronan stars as Florence Ponting and Billy Howle stars as Edward Mayhew in ON CHESIL BEACH, a Bleecker Street release. Credit: Robert Viglasky/Bleecker Street.

On Chesil Beach doesn’t quite rise up to to the level of previous adaptations of Ian McEwan’s works.

The film is rather confusing to follow.  We eventually learn that Florence Ponting (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward Mayhew (Billy Howle) just got married a few hours earlier and are planning to consummate their marriage.  Not all goes as planned, however, when Florence realizes that she can’t go through with it and runs out, causing Edward to chase after her.  Rather than take place in contemporary times, we’re go back in time to 1962.

As we follow their wedding night, McEwan’s screenplay–adapted from his own book–goes back in time a few months in order to follow their courtship.  It isn’t just that Florence and Edward are two different people but they have two very different upbringings.  This plays out through the flashbacks until a flash forward to 1975 and later, 2007.

One of the best parts of having On Chesil Beach set in the 1960s is a rocking soundtrack.  It’s two years before The Beatles hit it big so the film largely depends on the late Chuck Berry, who Florence describes as “bouncy and merry.”  Her comments are called back later in an emotional moment coming late in the film.

DIRECTOR:  Dominic Cooke
SCREENWRITER:  Ian McEwan
CAST:  Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle, Anne-Marie Duff, Adrian Scarborough, Emily Watson, and Samuel West

An official selection of the 2018 Chicago Critics Film Festival, On Chesil Beach premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.  Bleecker Street will release On Chesil Beach in theaters on May 18, 2018 with a theatrical expansion to follow.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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