British author Ian McEwan’s masterful works are infused with immaculate, poetic prose; his gift of capturing the human condition reigns in league with Dickens, Thackeray, Proust and the recently departed Philip Roth; a single reading is not sufficient in satisfying one’s lust for his written, exquisite prosaic conquests. Unfortunately, so much of his beautiful verbiage, is lost in the film’s translation.
“On Chesil Beach”, directed by Dominic Cooke, is a flashback to simpler times: “Florence” (Saoirse Ronan) and “Edward” (Billy Howle), recently paired in “The Seagull” are star-crossed lovers in the sixties; theirs is an instant connection, a virginal courtship resulting in a disastrous wedding day; their unpreparedness for life after marriage is the focus of this romantic tragedy.
This is not a bad movie, just rather bland and flat. Possibly, knowing the outcome eliminates the expectation factor; Ronan’s and Howle’s interpretation of Florence and Edward is worthy, but lacks the pungency and travesty needed for the outcome; Edward is given the broader, emotional devastation, a life without personal satisfaction; ageing while never deviating or rising above his wedding hubris. Many lives are altered by one ruinous, defining moment; unable to recuperate, living in limbo, until the end.
Sadly, when all Florence needed “was the certainty of his love and his assurance that there was no hurry when a lifetime lay ahead of them.”
TWO & 1/2 STARS!!