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On Chesil Beach  (DVD)


Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle, Emily Watson, Samuel West, Anne-Marie Duff, Adrian Scarborough

Director: Dominic Cooke

A romantic tragedy from the pen of Ian McEwan, starring Ronan, who made her debut 11 years ago at the age of 13 in the same author's Atonement.

Things are rarely destined to end well in a McEwan story, but the romance between Florence (Ronan) and Edward (Howle), even though they are not especially well suited, runs an idyllic course in the early 1960s.

She is the daughter of incredibly snobbish parents (Watson, West) and a classical violinist with a strong quartet. While hardly working class, Edward is the son of a Bohemian painter mother (Duff) and headteacher of a primary school (Scarborough) and has, like Florence, just achieved a first at university.

Despite the social gulf, Florence soon wins over Edward's now brain-damaged mother, while her boyfriend is tolerated by her parents, and offered a job in her father's firm.

But, come the wedding night, things go horribly wrong between the two virgins. Florence is scared, Edward insensitive. When patience, love and tact are called for, he reacts to the situation with bellicose anger.

This section of the film, it has to be said, is not entirely convincing, despite the efforts of the peerless Ronan, surely destined to be one of the screen's great actresses. But the film successfully elicits its feelings of impetuosity and loss, and brings its story to a sad but satisfactory conclusion.

David Quinlan

UK 2017. UK Distributor: LionsGate. Colour by Kodak.
105 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 28 Sep 2018