“On Chesil Beach” is probably the most perfect Ian McEwan adaptation. The author himself oversaw the film’s script and created something that is truly bizarre. The two lovers come together at college and are in quick adoration of each other. The guy likes playing outside of his working class origins, while Saoirse Ronan just wants a safe man. Nobody really pushes the issue until their marriage night on Chesil Beach.

Ronan doesn’t want to be touched and her new husband can’t understand her hesitation. She assures him that she loves him, but has no desire to engage in sex. He thinks she’s frigid, but she gives him a permanent hall pass to have sex outside of marriage. Somehow, this doesn’t work out. The marriage is never consummated and it’s allowed to be annulled. That’s when the film dives into places the book never tried.

Saoirse Ronan’s character’s sexual abuse is explored in the way the Scooby Gang would solve a mystery. It’s crass in a way that will insult most and entice the camp center of off-kilter brains. The book and most of the film will keep you enticed in how structured romance will fall apart under unspoken pressure. Especially if that pressure is the implication that the lead female character has been getting molested by her dad since she was young.

What makes this film even crazier is that it forces a third act that explores how these lovers grew apart and the guy got left alone for the rest of his year. Traditional life roles forced the woman into marrying a fellow musician that never left her alone. Now, she’s got three kids and stares wistfully at the guy that just wanted to have sex with her decades prior. That’s the ending, people. Who puts a miserable British film out during the summer?

I know that American cinema is all about genre fare, but who OK’d a film about sexual abuse leading to a bigger misery mystery? Hell, there should’ve been a truly tasteless movie poster with a big photoshop head of Brooklyn McLady Bird asking WHY ISN’T SHE PUTTING OUT? For a film targeting older couples and women, the level of tone deafness in the material is staggering. Check it out before it bounces out of your local Arthouse.


  • 1 hr and 50 mins
  • R
  • Bleecker Street


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