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film review
  • On Chesil Beach
  • Directed by Dominic Cooke
  • Written by Ian McEwan
  • Starring Saorise Ronan and Billy Howle
  • Classification 14A
  • 110 minutes

Rating:

3.5 out of 4 stars

Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle in On Chesil Beach.Robert Viglasky

Edward and Florence, newly married and very much in love, arrive at a grand old inn on the Dorset coast for their honeymoon; they’ll leave with a very different understanding of who they are and what they actually want out of life. It’s a film about love and the way it sometimes fails, and one that explores the meaning, and necessity, of intimacy in all its forms.

Ian McEwan adapts his own novel – for my money his best book – and remains faithful to the text for the most part; the few divergences only make the romance that much more tragic. The lead actors are both marvellous; Saoirse Ronan (who, coincidentally, rose to prominence thanks to another McEwan adaptation, Atonement) plays the troubled violinist, Florence, while Dunkirk’s Billy Howle is the kind-yet-anger-prone historian Edward. Yet the film’s most impressive performance might come from director Dominic Cooke, who has delivered an assured, wistful debut.