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On Chesil Beach

Based on a novel by Ian McEwen of the same name, the story centers on two newlyweds from different backgrounds, Florence (Saoirse Ronan) and Geoffrey (Samuel West) on their wedding night. Through a series of flashbacks, we see the development of their relationship through engagement, the interactions with each other’s families who love both of them, and then marriage and how this impacts their fateful wedding night. Ronan is always wonderful, and here she gives a typically understated and powerful performance. I also liked West’s performance. I liked the way this was presented in the book much better; the book captures more of the nuances of the sexual mores of men and women that were not captured to the same depth in the film. I also found the flashbacks to be too numerous, and they did not add as much depth to the story as they could have. Thumbs up for a film that captures expectations and performance anxieties surrounding sex in an earlier era and men’s and women’s reactions to that anxiety. If you haven’t read the story, I would highly recommend it.

About Gary Burkholder

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