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Non-Review Review: On Chesil Beach

On Chesil Beach is a messy and awkward adaptation of Ian McEwan’s story, adapted by the writer from his own work.

McEwan’s source material might be better described as a “novella” than as a “novel”, with the writer describing it as such and the book generating some small controversy when shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Indeed, the film strains when it tries to extend the novella’s core idea out into a feature-length film, often struggling to find focus and to hold its attention. The result is a very uneven piece of work.

Love on the rocks.

However, On Chesil Beach provides an intriguing mess of interesting ideas and solid performances. Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle cannot hold the film together, but provide a set of interesting characters that provide the closest thing that the film has to a throughline. The film works best when it is willing to focus on these two characters together, when it moves away from its free-association aesthetic towards something more concrete.

On Chesil Beach never quite coheres into a fully-formed film, often feeling more like a televison movie or a stage play than a theatrical release. Still, there is something interesting playing beneath the surface, often lost in heavy-handed writing or awkward segues.

It ain’t no picnic.

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Non-Review Review: The Comfort of Strangers

Let me tell you something: My father was a very big man. And all his life he wore a black mustache. When it was no longer black, he used a small brush, such as ladies use for their eyes. Mascara.

– Robert

The Comfort of Strangers is… a strange film. I can appreciate what it’s doing (or rather what it is trying to do), but it never quite comes together. Perhaps it’s because the movie seems structured as too much of a thought exercise rather than a finished dramatic production. There’s food for thought here, but there’s really not too much else.

Never wander off with strangers... ESPECIALLY if they're Christopher Walken...

Note: I will be discussing the film’s ending, which is kinda important. But don’t worry, I’ll flag it beforehand. Plus, this film is nearly twenty years old, so I figure it’s fair game.

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