Retro Review: The Beach

When Hollywood is faced with idea or image of paradise, why does it always become so bloody?

“The Beach” marks the return of Leonardo DiCaprio to the silver screen after his frozen corpse disappeared off the edge of the Titanic. DiCaprio joins with “Trainspotting” director Danny Boyle as a twenty something year old, Richard, exploring the allure of the Far East.

He takes a room in a seedy motel where he comes in contact with a psychotic drug-user Daffy (played by Robert Carlyle). Daffy shares a joint with DiCaprio and tells him of a paradise that no man should mistake is there. He tells an urban legend about a mythical beach incased in cliffs and cut off from the world. DiCaprio shrugs it off as a wild story until the next morning where he finds a map tacked to his door.

“The Beach” could have been a beautiful romance set against an epic adventure as Leo’s character teams up with a young French couple to find the mythical “Beach”. But when we are introduced to what makes the mythical island tick the movie takes a strange “Lord of the Flies” direction as the island’s world will do what ever it takes to preserve their paradise.

The scenery and imagery director Boyle conveys brings you in and captivates your attention. The beginning’s scope and deliverance reminded me a lot of “The Blue Lagoon” and “Castaway”. Both of these films had great potential but ran out of story before reaching fruition.

“The Beach” instead mixes the potential seen in “The Blue Lagoon” with an acid trip from “Lord of the Flies”. The end result is heavily flawed hero that you either hate or you are extremely confused about. This is no way to paint an adventure hero.

As a critic I will pity the masses hoping for another epic romance from DiCaprio. So exactly where does the “Beach” fit into Leo’s acting career. I would have to say it proves undeniably the melding and molding his career is taking.

The first half of the film we have the Hollywood star but as the film enters its second half we see the heavily flawed characters he treasured earlier in his career. The films I am referring to are “Total Eclipse” and “Basketball Diaries”.

“The Beach” does deliver a lot of allure which made me want to see a really good island adventure movie. Which did make me wonder did this film ever want to really explore that avenue. Coupled with that allure, I found myself feeling more for the heroine Fran├žoise (played by beautiful French newcomer Virginie Ledoyen) then for Leo’s Richard. Why does paradise always have to destroy man? Well it destroyed the Beach.

3.5 out of 5

So says the Soothsayer.

One thought on “Retro Review: The Beach

  1. I totally did not realize Danny Boyle directed this film! I remember seeing it and not loving it, but maybe I should give it another shot, if only to see how much Leonard DiCaprio has matured as an actor.

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