Film review: On Chesil Beach (4 out of 5)

On Chesil Beach
On Chesil Beach

Famed author Ian McEwan has certainly managed to create a close relationship with the world of TV and film.

Countless writers have seen their work turned into movies but very few have taken such a successful active role as McEwan.

He has written or co-written various screenplays and also produced three films involving his books.

Back in 2007 Atonement came on to my radar, an excellent movie with an impressive performance by a young Saoirse Ronan that brought her to many people’s attention.

And here she is, years later, in another McEwan novel adaptation in the co-starring role.

This is basically a two-hander, set in the early 1960s, with Ronan alongside Billy Howle, who may not be as well known but produces a great performance and is someone to watch out for.

The two play Florence Ponting, a classically trained musician with a rich and snobbish family, and Edward Mayhew, a blues music fan whose mother has a serious illness.

Despite their different backgrounds, they fall in love and get married, but as they start their honeymoon in a hotel by Chesil Beach in Dorset it becomes all too clear that there is a major hurdle to overcome that will test their love.

The first two-thirds of the film is full of flashbacks to how they met, with an impressive array of British actors filling the family roles (Samuel West, Emily Watson, Anne-Marie Duff and Adrian Scarborough).

My only concern was the occasional attempt at humour which seemed to be added a bit clumsily in an attempt to lighten the mood.

The audience I was in was mostly women but this is certainly not a film aimed at a female audience.

The acting on its own demands a wider appeal.

If you liked Atonement all those years ago then the chances are you’ll enjoy this film as the tone and feel is similar.

Film details: On Chesil Beach (15) 110mins

Director: Dominic Cooke

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emily Watson, Samuel West

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol