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Film Review: The Beach

It would be easy to start this review with a soundbite. 'Lord of the Flies' meets 'Trainspotting' Great, wonderful review and I'm sure you've seen it before. The truth is that 'The Beach' is more Lord of the Flies for the MTV generation or, worse than that, Lord of the Flies for the Leo generation.

Backpacking through Thailand, Richard (Leonardo di Caprio) meets Daffy (Robert Carlyle) who gives him a map with directions to a mysterious paradise island. Richard makes friends with two French lovebirds (Virginie Ledoyen and Guillaume Canet) and they set off to find the island. When they locate the island they find a community leaving there. But paradise isn't always what it seems to be.

I have mixed feelings about this movie and before I continue let me say that I enjoyed the movie. It passes away its two hours and forty five minutes nicely, but at the end of the day is that enough?

'The Beach' has more in common with Boyle, Hodge and MacDonald's 'Life Less Ordinary' than with 'Trainspotting'. May be it is unfair to examine every film these guys make against 'Trainspotting', but that film did show the talent they have. However in this instance the 'Trainspotting' formula hasn't worked with their adaptation of Alex Garland's novel.

The use of Leonardo diCaprio does not add to the film. Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-Leo but with his inclusion in the cast (and he is the only "star" in the film), the film becomes about him. There is rarely a scene without him in it. It's his story and we are never felt to forget that, whereas the book dealt with the community.

In the second act Leo goes 'Lord of the Flies'. The film though doesn't show enough reason as to why. A video game sequence shows that his mind is working as a game, but the actual sequence itself doesn't suit the film.

The climax of the movie is different from the novel. But the movie's climax is nothing you haven't seen before in numerous television programmes (even worse, in many a Star Trek episode). Paradise is lost while the leader can't handle the defeat and goes into denial. The message being that paradise can't last forever and we must move on with our lives. But the message to remember the good times is a bit boring and dull and perhaps Messers Boyle, Hodge and MacDonald should have took a risk with the ending.

Overall the film is similar to a lottery scratch card. It's nice to look at but as soon as you scratch the surface, you're in for disappointment. I'm not saying it's bad but on the other hand I'm not saying it's great. If you can stomach diCaprio, then maybe the film is for you. My advice is to check the cinema listing for anything else you might like to see and go to that because you're not missing out on much if you don't see 'The Beach'.

Robert Lanigan

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