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.