The Beach

Review Date:
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: John Hodge
Producers: Andrew MacDonald
Leonardo DiCaprio
Virginie Ledoyen
Guillaime Canet
A young American looking for adventure in Bangkok gets a hold of a secret map to a paradise island and takes a couple of French friends along for the ride. Once at the island, all is well among the community of folks lucky enough to have found this utopian garden, that is…until things don’t go so well!
The excellent showing by DiCaprio and the slick soundtrack don’t take away from the fact that this film starts off strong, slows down considerably during its median and just goes kinda cooky in the end. For DiCaprio, one can’t really blame the kid for choosing this project over all others after his gigantic TITANIC success. It doesn’t pander to his teeny-bopper followers or exploit his good-looks, it delivers a decent premise and many a dark undertone, and it even sets him up with the hip director of TRAINSPOTTING…so what’s the problem? Well, it looked to me like the film just didn’t know what it wanted to be. Was it an action-adventure? Hmmmm, not really. Was it a romance? Well, a little bit, but then not! Was it a thriller? Not really, but there were a couple of thrilling scenes. It’s hard to say. Of course, none of this would really matter if the film’s many facets worked together to form a cohesive and entertaining whole, but unfortunately, this film just slips up right under the wire. In fact, the sudden “twist” near the end of the flick just kinda “lost me”, on top of the lingering pace once they had settled in at the island. Some people might dig all that, but for me, it just felt a little ackward. Although I did enjoy the “video game” sequence (you’ll understand if you see the film).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m into surrealism as much as the next guy, but after waddling through what seemed like over an hour of “look how happy we all are to be in paradise!” exposition, I was just expecting a little more out of this film. But on the positive tip, this movie was packed with gorgeous shots of places that we all wish we were at right now, moves along a little smoother under the electro-sounds of the film’s groovy soundtrack and presents us with an actor by the name of Leonardo DiCaprio in top form! It’s good to know that he’s still the great actor that he was before that damn boat sunk his career into a professional abyss. Welcome back, dude. Having said that, it’s actually pretty hard to define the type of moviegoer that would thoroughly enjoy this film, since it does meche many different styles into one. Adventure fans might like some of it, romance seekers might enjoy parts as well, a little drama, a little comedy. Hard to pinpoint. Of course, most Leo fans should dig it just for his solid presence, but then again, would those same people appreciate the HEART OF DARKNESS undertones? Probably not. All in all, this movie succeeds in style, music and Leo, but ultimately fails to string along a story good enough to warrant a hearty recommendation. Entertaining for a while, but faulty overall.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

The Beach



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