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Movie Review

The Beach

MPAA Rating: R for violence, some strong sexuality, language and drug content

Reviewed by: Seth T. Hahne

Very Offensive
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Primary Audience:
2 hr.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Beach”
Featuring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tilda Swinton, Virginie Ledoyen, Guillaume Canet
Director: Danny Boyle
Producer: Andrew Macdonald
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox

Almost a toned-down adaptation of the themes of William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” (but with adults this time ’round), Danny “Trainspotting” Boyle’s sometimes frantic, but more often plodding film, “The Beach”, ultimately fails to capture its audience.

Scene from “The Beach”A cautionary tale, “The Beach” is reminiscent of and and even makes reference to Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now”; however, rather than take DiCaprio’s Richard to his foreshadowed end, Boyle remedies his condition abruptly and all references to Kurtz are lost and made pointless.

Scene from “The Beach”Due to “The Beach”’s erratic pacing (something of which “Apocalypse Now” was also guilty) and saccharine conclusion, there is naught, but eye candy remaining to recommend the film—but to be sure, that candy is sweet. Beyond a beautiful cast (Leonardo DiCaprio [“Titanic,” “The Man in the Iron Mask”] and Virginie Ledoyen) and some truly fun cinematography and editing, there is the island itself: simply breath-taking. The mythic island and its beach lagoon are truly the stuff postcards are made of! Unfortunately, aesthetics have rarely saved films and “The Beach” is no exception.

From a moral perspective, the film centers on tourists in Thailand and so focuses upon the activities for which such tourists are generally known: unadulterated secular hedonism. Boyle’s characters indulge in frequent fornication (with two exceptions, these occur off-screen) and more frequent use of the island’s abundance of cannabis (marijuana). Also, as expected, such characters freely express some of the more colloquial vulgarisms and show only the slightest respect for human life.

Viewer Comments
Sorry to disappoint people, but the beach as it appears in the film is largely a triumph of CGI. You can’t actually holiday there, unfortunately! I’m also not sure about some of the comments which criticise a film merely for containing violence or sex. I would argue that the context for such acts is all-important. After all, the Bible contains many harrowing accounts of violence, but these are necessary in a book which seeks (amongst other things) to show people how profoundly serious sin is. I too thought the ending of the film a cop-out. Rather anodyne given the tone of the previous hour. My Ratings: [3/2½]
—Barry, age 28
I found “The Beach” to be a little too explicit in what it portrayed, like many movies today. It was shrowded in Hollywood ideals and touched on many moral issues for me. I agree with other commenters about this film, that it shows that we cannot find true happiness by ourselves in the world, even if it is on a perfect beach. There is still the human element and humans aren’t complete without God and His influence in our lives. It is a good conversation starter with non-Christians about these issues so for this reason only would I recommend going to see this movie. My Ratings: [1½/2½]
—Ross Clark, age 19
At first glance this movie was slow and a bit too long. After, when I reflected on the meaning of the movie I realized that there is a much deeper meaning. What if we could find and create our own perfection here on Earth? Where we could live as we want, with no rules or commandments. Where our own pleasure came before anything else. This is what the people on the island tried to do. The point of the movie is that we cannot live without some sort of rules and commandments. God gave us commandments so that we can prevent what happens in the movie. I did enjoy the movie, though I was glad I used a 2 for one coupon. And yes it was a bit too long. My Ratings: [2½/3]
—Russ Overland, age 29
Most non-Christians should find this movie at least moderately entertaining. The only thing I can say good about it was the beach itself. Where did they find that beach?! It was beautiful, if it was secluded before it won’t be anymore, every tourist in the world is gonna want to find it now. There is a very explicit sex scene (imho) and the story just isn’t entertaining. There is also drug use and graphic violence the scene of which is re-visited on annoying frequency. So, no kids and old people. The only way I’d recommend it is from a geographical perspective. And then I wouldn’t want to muck through the film itself. I think a better version of this film would have been to cut the whole story, maybe shoot some scenes in Thailand and then give us an hour and a half documentary of that beach. If you miss this one, you haven’t missed much. My Ratings: [2/1½]
—JK Perry, age 29
self-explorative and daring… In the genre of self-explorative films, “The Beach” is one of the better works of late. The film centers on the talented Leonardo DiCaprio, playing a modern expatriate American looking for paradise in South East Asia. After the cinematographic feast ends, Richard (DiCaprio) learns that a moment is all that can be expected from perfection (in true Chuck Palanuik “Fight Club” form). “The Beach” and “Fight Club” are the only films of the last few years with the guts to make a statement about life that is in any sense daring. Bravo. My Ratings: [2/4]
—Ben Johnson, age 25, non-Christian
“a bad dream”… I saw this movie not knowing to much about it. They could have turned this story line into something great, but they turned it into a bad dream from a 60’s hippy. As a Christian, I know I should have walked out in the first 10 minutes, I was hoping it would calm down. It doesn’t. The worst movie I have seen in years. The only truth it brings out is that God made the world perfect and we mess it up (we KNOW that). I hope you pass this one up. My Ratings: [1/1]
—Shawn, age 24
Shawn is right—this film is a ’60s hippie’s bad dream. I was a real ’60s hippie. Like the characters in this film, we imagined that we could do dope and have casual sex without hurting anyone. We also lied to, cheated and stole from each other while proclaiming “peace and love;” and there was little or no place in our world for babies, children or older people. The range of movie quality that commentors have given here (everything from 1 to 5) is probably tied to the question of whether we have to be told that sinful humans can’t create an artificial paradise, or whether we already know it. I know it now, but as an unbeliever I didn’t. I actually believed in the ’60s propaganda, until I saw the ruined lives that resulted from it. Once I realized that my way of life was all wrong, I came to Jesus for a new life. My Ratings: [1½/2½]
Brett Willis, age 49
shows that superficial joys do not bring contentment… “The Beach” is the much-anticipated new release by the extraordinarily-talented Mr Leonardo DiCaprio. The film is a well-crafted splicing of fast Asian city life and the contrasting natural pleasures offered by some of Asia’s most beautiful land, secluded from the industrialised world. Three backpackers, Leonardo being the main character, are in search of one particular island in hopes of experiencing the joys of a “Utopian” existence. But having found this place, they soon realise that the price to pay for this existence ends up being much more than any of them can afford. The film does a great job of making the message clear that external and superficial things do not bring contentment. And it also clearly illustrates the repercussions of living a life where the entire focus is fulfilling carnal pleasures. Unfortunately, in the process of getting this point across, there can be quite a lot of profanity, and a couple of some very strong sexual scenes. And things actually get a bit gory in a couple of other places, too. However, overlooking those negatives, this film offers some rather picturesque cinematography. And needless to say, Mr. DiCaprio performs with a liquid expertise that leaves one no less than amazed. His fellow cast members also give impressive performances. More than anything, it is refreshing in that it appeals to the intellect, which is a wonderful reprieve from the typical Hollywood cinematic production. Overlooking some of the more offensive scenes, this is a very, very good film. My Ratings: [2½/5]
—Jacqueline Gilzene, age 25
it’s no “Blue Lagoon””… This one will leave you wondering why you spent the money to see it! It starts out with potential and begins to grab your attention as another typical pirates vs good guys movie, but quickly fades into a dark world of drug abuse and senseless on screen violence. It appears as if the writer simply ran out of ideas and allowed the movie to ruin itself. Some subtle ideology that softens the world of drug use and drug manufacturing. At one point the movie justifies the “farmer” as simply trying to provide for his family via drug growing and eventually murder. The movie takes a dark turn when Leonardo enters into the mind of a very disturbed drug addict, who eventually took his own life. Some of the graphic violence leads you wondering as to the reason or purpose. This movie shows total disdain for anything right, normal or peaceful. Spiritually it brings nothing to the viewer with the exception of portraying the true lostness of a sin broken world. Save your money, this is no Blue lagoon!
—Al Squitieri, age 34
a strong message… Amazing! I enjoyed this movie because of its message. I do not discount that there were explicit scenes glorifying sex, pleasure, suicide, violence and gore, but in today’s media circus to find a movie without these… well it would be a miracle! Back to the message… for the pursuit of pleasure each character would disregard any compassion/civility to those who did not measure up or were disfigured or made them feel uneasy! It was shocking to say the least, but the point was made. This movie did not say to me come to the island… you will be fulfilled. It shouted loud… the arrogance, disgust and downright selfishness of the human heart! I would parallel this movie to todays society and even the church and as Christians are we going to discount the message and not realise the true reality of who Jesus Christ was and is today… love and compassion to a hurting and disheartened world or will we as these people did on the island… out of sight—out of mind? Do we want messed up people coming into our churches… or will it mess up, make us feel uncomfortable in our paradise, our river of God… This is the question!
—Steph Lambert, age 24
“confusing, degrading, no point”… This is a very bizarre movie from the beginning to the end. I would consider myself a strong Christian; my husband and I went to see this movie because we enjoyed DiCaprio’s previous movie, “Titanic”. I am concerned for young people especially, who are going to view this movie because they like Leonardo DiCaprio, and what they will get in this movie is a story that’s very confusing, degrading and basically has no point—in truth, it is a trashy movie—there is not one good thing that I can think of in this movie, except that it exposes man’s depraved nature without Christ. I would not recommend it to anyone. My Ratings: [1/5]
—Anonymous, age 40s