The Beach

The Beach is a mish-mash of a movie. Part Apocalypse Now, part Lord of the Flies, part Blue Lagoon, and any other desert island movie you can think of, this new movie, based on Alex Garland's 1996 novel of the same name, is not quite satisfying. The spotlight is shining especially bright because of two reasons; star Leonardo DiCaprio, and the beach itself. The Beach was filmed on Phi Phi Le, a beautiful small island off Phukett, Thailand. After filming, the Thai government alleged that Twentieth Century Fox ruined the beach, while Fox denied the allegations and stated that the beach was cleaner than it was when filming began. Regardless of what did happen, the sets used in The Beach are pristine and gorgeous. The Beach is also DiCaprio's first movie after Titanic, the movie that raised his profile considerably. Millions of girls everywhere were eagerly awaiting DiCaprio's next film, and they should be happy, since he runs around with no shirt on for much of the movie.

Richard (DiCaprio, Titanic, William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet) is on vacation in Thailand. He quickly discovers that he is sick of the usual tourist game. He does not want to travel halfway across the world only to watch American movies and eat at McDonalds. When Daffy (Robert Carlyle, Angela's Ashes, The World is Not Enough), the man in the next hotel room, tells Richard of a pristine island, intriuging Richard. Daffy presents Richard with a map, and Richard enlists of the help of Francoise (Virginie Ledoyen, A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries) and Etienne (Guillaume Canet, The Day the Ponies Come Back), a vacationing French couple. The three set off and find the island, only to discover that it is already inhabited by like-minded travelers, searching for their own Eden. Sal (Tilda Swinton, The War Zone, Love is the Devil) is the leader of the commune, setting the rules for their near idyllic existence. Little do they realize that like an ecosystem, they are part of an equilibrium, and when something foreign enters, the balance is broken.

The Beach is by director Danny Boyle, screenwriter John Hodge, and producer Andrew MacDonald, the same team behind A Life Less Ordinary and Trainspotting. Here, the story is all over the place. It starts off about teens seeking adventure and turns into a vacation resort video. Later, the film takes a darker turn and deals with more serious issues such as group think and individuality, madness, and, and deep questions about right and wrong. Everything is touched lightly upon, then the film moves on to something else, leaving viewers wondering. Aside from Richard, Francoise, and Etienne, most of the people living on the island are immature. They are true hedonists, living only for pleasure and ignorant of other serious issues. The movie describes them as video game addicts, and later, DiCaprio begins living his own version of the game. DiCaprio's performance is fine, it's just the script that needs additional tinkering. The story requires his character to display a wide range of emotion, which DiCaprio does. His biggest flaw in the movie is his voice over work, where he sounds somewhat lethargic. The Beach certainly will not hurt DiCaprio's career, but it sure won't help it much.

Haro Rates It: Okay
1 hour, 59 minutes, Rated R for violence, some strong sexuality, language, and drug content.

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