Run time: 110 mins
What does it look like when stiff upper lips kiss? On Chesil Beach, an adaptation of Ian McEwan’s 2007 novella goes a long way to paint a picture.
It is the story of Florence (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward (Billy Howle), young university graduates getting married in 1962. She is a talented and ambitious classical musician from a well-to-do family and he is a clever young man from humbler origins. Both have first-class degrees and, in consequence, no small opinion of themselves. They go as virgins to the marriage bed in a way that was quite normal then and all but unimaginable now. The setting is a horribly conventional seaside hotel on Chesil Beach in Dorset, whose wild and windblown expanse is in grim contrast to their own corseted timidity and ignorance.
On Chesil Beach seems destined to go down as the most uncomfortable movie about not making love of the last decade. That it’s their honeymoon, the start of their lives together, is the big joke at the centre of a deeply unfunny plot. It’s dreary and overcast, but the two leads are convincing. (research Jack Whiting) Another inevitable filming of McEwan’s unwatchable canon: alongside Atonement and Enduring Love. You decide.