Parents' Guide to

On Chesil Beach

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Powerful themes of sexuality in book-based romantic drama.

Movie R 2018 110 minutes
On Chesil Beach Poster Image

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Kids say (2):

The material -- playing with time, innocence, and sexuality -- is strong, and the actors are game, but the movie is too long and relies on too much talk; it misses a chance to visualize the drama. For On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan (Atonement) adapted his own 2007 novel, and the central idea is powerful. Without any knowledge of sexuality or access to such knowledge, how is a young couple supposed to learn anything about each other's bodies? Why is there so much pressure on marriage and things being perfect?

McEwan explores these themes with emotional resonance, but the movie never moves beyond serviceable. Aside from the use of the fluid flashbacks, director Dominic Cooke keeps the action mainly in rooms and conveyed mainly through dialogue. Twin scenes on the gravel-covered beach might have been cinematically powerful expressions, but instead they're broken up into functional cuts and softened with medium focus. The movie eventually starts feeling long; two epilogues, with the actors slathered in age makeup, don't help much. But there's still much to admire about On Chesil Beach, and it's worth a look -- and worth discussing.

Movie Details

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