Aug 132018

On Chesil Beach was admittedly disappointing; it might offer great performances by both Ronan and Howle, but had editing that, while perhaps true to the novel, hindered the character development.



On Chesil Beach

Genre(s): Drama, Romance
Universal | R – 110 min. – $29.98 | August 7, 2018

Date Published: 08/13/2018 | Author: The Movieman

Directed by: Dominic Cooke
Writer(s): Ian McEwan (book) (screenplay)
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle, Emily Watson, Anne-Marie Duff
Features: Featurette, Deleted Scenes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.39
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 38.1 GB
Codecs: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

THE MOVIE — 3.0/5

Note: This review contains some PLOT SPOILERS, so reader’s beware.

On Chesil Beach is based off the novel by author Ian McEwan who has had a few of his works turned into movies, not the least of which was Atonement, one of my favorite movies of 2007 and a heart wrenching of a film it was. This one, as much as it tries to get across a few of the same themes, namely regret, doesn’t quite hold the emotional impact, likely for a couple of reasons which I will get to in a moment.

First, the story, which takes place in the 1960s, centers around newly married couple Florence (SAOIRSE RONAN) and Edward (BILLY HOWLE), two people on opposite ends of social circles, on their honeymoon where things are… rather awkward from a dinner which arrives too early to their first sexual encounter.

Throughout this, we get flashback scenes on how they met, backgrounds on both Florence’s and Edward’s not-so-stellar home life with the latter having a mother who is not right in the head and for Florence, an abusive father. There’s a bit of a meet-cute like scene with Edward taking a bus trip into the town of Oxford in order to find someone who will appreciate his receiving his “first-class” degree as nobody at home doesn’t. His first stop is at an anti-war meeting where Florence is handing out pamphlets.

After we get bits about their upbringings and the pair falling in love before ultimately getting engaged, there are cracks in their newly formed marriage that begin to show culminating with a wretched experience in bed and an argument on, well, Chesil Beach.

I can’t really go forward without delving into major spoiler territory, but we do get what are supposed to be heartbreaking scenes later with a great sense of regret toward the end. However, as interesting as this part of the movie was, which is covered over the course of time, did not have much of an emotional impact on me. And I’m not afraid to admit, romance-dramas can get to me (see the aforementioned Atonement as well as Perfect Sense and Never Let Me Go).

Part of the reason is, despite the great performances from Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle, the characters aren’t nearly fleshed out as they could have been. I’m not sure if the issue was the story’s structure that rather telling a somewhat more traditional plot they chose to piece together their relationship via flashbacks. And in that regard, the fault, at these in some respect, lies with the screenwriter which so happens to be the author himself, Ian McEwan. This might be a case where the studio might’ve benefited from hiring a professional script writer, as he or she would’ve been able to more creatively adapted the novel and giving more depth for Florence and Edward.

On the more technical front, the direction from Dominic Cooke – marking his feature film debut which might be another reason the movie failed to connect – with his cinematographer Sean Bobbitt (Queen of Katwe, Stronger), does a nice job with the look of the film alongside the well done costume and production designs.

In the end, On Chesil Beach is a flawed yet still a movie worthy of a rental if only for Ronan and Howle’s performances and even their wonderful, if not painfully awkward, chemistry, which does help give a tinge of emotion at the end, though should’ve been so much more and instead makes for a rather forgettable film.



This release comes with a glossy slip cover and inside is the redemption code for the Digital HD copy. Sadly, the only features on here are The Story Behind On Chesil Beach (9:09; HD) making-of featurette and 7 Deleted Scenes (6:05; HD).


VIDEO – 4.0/5

Universal releases On Chesil Beach onto Blu-ray where it is presented with a 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and given a lovely looking 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture quality is quite good showing off some well defined detail, particularly on the close-up shots while the more distant ones do lose some definition. Colors are generally bright while any blacks are fairly stark and showing no signs of artifacts or aliasing that might permeate these kind of shots.

AUDIO – 3.5/5

The included DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is on the basic side. 95% of the movie is pretty much dialogue driven so most of the audio comes via the center channel while there is some usage for the rear speakers for the time-period appropriate music plus the score by Dan Jones (Lady Macbeth).


OVERALL – 3.25/5

Overall, On Chesil Beach was admittedly disappointing when I realized it was based on the novel from the author of Atonement as I truly loved that adaptation and found it to be absolutely an emotional experience. This one, on the other hand, might offer great performances by both Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle, but had editing that, while perhaps true to the novel, hindered the character development and any raw emotions that the filmmakers were looking for at the end. The Blu-ray itself has good video, okay audio and lackluster features making this better off as a rental.




Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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