A Well Written Travel Movie
Although The Beach doesn’t always follow the exact narrative of the book, the deviations are certainly justified, making this a really entertaining cerebral thriller. The pop music soundtrack and all-star cast only further emphasise the intention to tailor this film to a broader audience. The story is easy to follow and in many ways shares some similarities to the classic novel Lord Of The Flies, especially late on when the societal ties begins to break down for the characters. The cinematography is sublime too; shots of Thailand, including the beach itself, are gorgeously shot giving this film a slick, visual quality to accompany its engrossing story.
The film begins with Richard (Leonardi DiCaprio), a man backpacking in Thailand sick of the conventional, mundane ideals most tourists stick to and longing for new and exciting adventures. A chance encounter with unhinged Daffy (Robert Carlyle) results in him giving Richard a map to a hidden paradise unspoiled by the human population. Accompanied by fellow tourists Françoise (Virginie Ledoyen) and her boyfriend Étienne (Guillaume Canet), the three set out in search of paradise and the wonders that might lie within.
For the most part The Beach does a great job telling its story at a decent pace and the easy to follow narrative helps to keep the attention focused solely on the actors themselves. Leonardo DiCaprio in particular puts in an incredible performance as Richard and his broad range is shown in incredible detail here, especially late on when he’s pushed to his limits.
The Beach does a great job showing the juxtaposition between the noisy, bustling streets of Thailand and the tranquil beauty of the island. The quick cuts and dizzying array of shots in the city only further emphasise this compared to the smooth, steady shots of the three travelling across the beautiful Thailand landscape. Late on there’s a really creative use of the visual design too that really helps set this film apart.
While some may lament the way The Beach tailors itself to a broader audience and doesn’t quite dive into the thematic questions raised in the book it’s based on, there’s still an incredibly endearing, enjoyable travel movie here well worth watching. Leonardo DiCaprio is sublime in his role as Richard and the interesting cast of supporting characters around him are well written and equally as appealing to watch. The Beach may not be the most thought provocative film released nor is it likely to win any awards anytime soon, but what it lacks in prestige it more than makes up for with solid storytelling and a great pace making this a film well worth watching.