On Chesil Beach
Sat, Apr 21 at 4pm
Director Dominic Cooke
United Kingdom / 110 Min
Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) and Billy Howle (Dunkirk) star as Florence and Edward in this adaptation of Ian McEwan’s acclaimed novel, about a young, educated, and virginal newlywed couple on their honeymoon in the English seaside and what happens when they attempt to consummate their relationship. It is 1962 and they live in a time when conversation about sexual difficulties are plainly impossible.
Florence is a disciplined violinist, raised in a cold vise of middle-class repression. Flashbacks show her mother (Emily Watson) crushing all impulse with propriety. Edward offers Florence some promise of freedom. He was raised in the countryside in a more volatile family, and found liberation in literature and ideas. The two arrive at a Chesil Beach guest house in love and ready to begin their life together, but hopelessly ill-equipped for their first night.
Adapted for the screen by novelist Ian McEwan himself and directed by former Royal Court Theatre head Dominic Cooke, this is a beautifully precise anatomy of thwarted desire. Edward has worked himself into a volcanic state, but fumbles as he tries to express himself to Florence. She views the marriage bed with fear verging on revulsion. Neither of them knows what to do next, so they perform the social rituals of dinner and polite conversation until there is no recourse left to them. As On Chesil Beach reaches its shattering conclusion, it reveals a stark, primal scene from a marriage.