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Overall Rating

Awesome: 5.84%
Worth A Look: 32.47%
Just Average: 10.39%
Pretty Crappy35.71%
Sucks: 15.58%

11 reviews, 88 user ratings

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Beach, The
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by EricDSnider

"Good, but it shouldn't be."
4 stars

"The Beach" has me stumped. I have this vague feeling that I liked it, but then I can think of a thousand reasons why I shouldn't have.

The film begins with Richard (Leonardo DiCaprio) as a jaded American tourist in Bangkok. His voice-over narration (which sounds a lot like Edward Norton's in "Fight Club") indicates his detached, cynical attitude. Since we never learn his last name, where he's from, or anything else about him (later in the movie, he calls someone back home, but we don't even learn who, specifically, he was talking to), we can surmise that's supposed to be Everyman -- or, more exactly, Everyyouth, the embodiment of the American young people's disenchantment with life in general.

So here's the problem: Leonardo is far too daisy-fresh and young-looking to pull off a world-weary, cynical character. His narration rings astoundingly hollow, particularly when he gets psuedo-philosophical. ("Desire is desire wherever you go," he says with great import. "The sun will not bleach it, nor the tide wash it away.")

Richard winds up in a horrible Bangkok hotel (I suspect the word "horrible" may be redundant), where he meets a crazy, pot-smoking fellow named Daffy (Richard Carlyle, chewing the scenery here the way he chewed his fellow man in "Ravenous"). Daffy tells Richard about a mythical island that no one knows about -- a paradise that is off-limits to the world. Richard doesn't believe him until he finds a map on his door the next day, which Daffy apparently drew before killing himself.

Seeking to do something beyond what tourists normally do, Richard sets out to find the island. He takes with him two other hotel guests, a French couple named Etienne (Guillaume Canet) and Francoise (Virginie Ledoyen). He really just wants Francoise, but she and Etienne are sort of a package deal.

They get to the island within 20 minutes of the film beginning, and they find a true paradise, an entire community of former tourists who have dropped all the cares of the world to come and live here. There is order, in the form of a leader named Sal (Tilda Swinton), though she is certainly not an iron-fisted dictator. There is some basic work to be done to keep the paradise running, but overall, it's pure heaven.

The film does well with its themes of responsibility and reality -- two things that everyone on the island is trying to escape, but which ultimately must be dealt with. When a community member is attacked by a shark, rather than putting up with his tortured moans in the main hut, they take him out into the woods -- out of sight, out of mind. These are people -- Richard most of all -- who don't want to deal with anything unpleasant. Richard makes at least two huge mistakes over the course of the film, and his response is usually, "What can I say?" He realizes that "I'm sorry" won't make it better, but he usually doesn't even try it.

We also have issues of the unknown. Everyone gets tired of the same old thing, but they're also afraid to try anything new. This film, perhaps pessimistically, suggests that trying something new may be futile anyway.

So what's wrong with the movie? Mostly the scatter-brained nature of the plot. A love triangle develops with Etienne, Richard and Francoise ... and then quickly dissolves when Francoise chooses Richard and Etienne just accepts it. Richard screws things up with Francoise, but she's quickly forgotten anyway when Richard sets out to become Mr. Jungle Commando, lurking in the woods waiting for intruders to arrive, in a bizarre (though, I grudgingly admit, fascinating) sequence.

Also, let's not forget the Daffy character, who sets the whole thing in motion with his map, then kills himself, all for no discernible reason. For a movie that handles its main themes really well, having things begin so weirdly is a liability.

What's right about the film? DiCaprio is a good actor. He's honest and real in this role, particularly when it allows him to have fun; as I said, the whole "cynical" thing doesn't work for him. Production values are high, the Thai scenery is gorgeous, and the music is evocative. The movie is getting four stars from me.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=3453&reviewer=247
originally posted: 06/30/03 01:44:31
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User Comments

9/12/17 morris campbell boring IMHO 1 stars
10/14/07 fools♫gold danny boyle in all his perfectness 5 stars
5/01/07 Vin Mostly good, ending a bit weak though 4 stars
2/03/07 William Goss A Gen-X Lord-of-the-Flies that isn't nearly as profound as it thinks it is. 2 stars
2/01/07 Matt If the movie doesn't even know what it's trying to say, how should we? 2 stars
10/01/06 Beau i loved it, action packed movie with a hint of horror. Loved the secrecy in it. 5 stars
5/03/06 tatum Dull mumbo-jumbo, Leo is really terrible 2 stars
5/02/06 Anthony Feor Leo's career is flushed down the toilet 1 stars
2/21/06 Ronin a very interesting script 4 stars
8/29/05 LS Galvin Very pleasing to the eye - worth a watch! 4 stars
8/17/05 ES Says a lot about society, betrayal and waste, but they went with the goof as a lead= bad 2 stars
5/16/05 Indrid Cold Strange, dull story. 2 stars
2/12/05 Alice Colwell not bad 4 stars
12/08/04 Kristina Williams bad choice to follow up Titanic. MORE water?! 2 stars
12/06/04 Gaza This film is crap. Danny continues his downward spiral that bottoms out in teh aweful 28 Da 2 stars
9/10/04 jeff good movie till it turns weird close to the ending. 4 stars
9/09/03 Niels Hesse REALLY GOOD MOVIE 5 stars
8/27/03 Mr. Hat Really good script and acting, and great directing. 4 stars
7/10/03 Kelli cool 4 stars
2/25/03 Blabity blah Didn't know if it wanted to be the Blue Lagoon or Apocoplyse Now 2 stars
9/29/02 Fuze44 I wanted the main character to die. 1 stars
9/23/02 I Can't Swim You shitheads that hate Leo should choke on my prostate gland 5 stars
5/17/02 azzouz mohamed rachid doctor 5 stars
2/20/02 Monster W. Kung Superficial and annoying. What a disappointment after Trainspotting. 2 stars
1/16/02 Cookie Cutter Pretty moronic and fake, though the scenery is beautiful. 2 stars
10/08/01 Mark Conway Starts off well, but then struggles to make any real inpact, poor plot, leo's too fucked up 3 stars
9/12/01 Gary Poor adaptation that skims over the novel's themes. Ledoyen & the photography are good tho. 2 stars
7/28/01 Mike Hunt I thought Leo met his demise on the Titanic! Too bad. 1 stars
6/20/01 Tzila Seewald It's disgusting movie! 2 stars
6/06/01 Rampage I hate your review, Hawk, you used to be reliable, now you give this dumb movie four stars 1 stars
4/23/01 Luke Great movie. 5 stars
4/15/01 Tam Exotic and memorable yarn, beautiful scenery, but a bit thin on plot. 4 stars
3/02/01 lisa psycho! they're all nuts 1 stars
2/21/01 Fredy Great movie if you go see it high. Nardo really sucks though. 2 stars
2/14/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) =| 3 stars
12/07/00 Stuntman One of the worst in a whole line of screwed up teenybopper movies. Damn you Leo! 1 stars
11/19/00 natasha a little uneven, but some interesting ideas played well 4 stars
10/15/00 Dan Stunning scenery and good cinematography, but Hodge sure fucked up the story. 2 stars
9/26/00 mephetic Haha, this movie is pretty damn funny. It ALMOST makes Leo cool. 4 stars
9/14/00 Overflow Bitch Very good, VERY VERY UNDERRATED. Well written, interesting, great scenery all around. 4 stars
9/11/00 Ground Zero DiCaprio is the parasite... terminate with extreme prejuice... 1 stars
9/03/00 The Extreaminizer Good If you want to see DeCrapio smoke pot for 2 hours, anyways, it sucks major ass 1 stars
8/03/00 skeletor de-CRAP-io sucks 1 stars
7/30/00 The Bomb 69 what's up with the video game sequence? plot holes the size of Montana 2 stars
7/03/00 Tandi Pretty good a bit odd at times though! 4 stars
5/04/00 everythingsucks purty scenery, a few plot holes 4 stars
4/28/00 Pansy Screw Leo Di Caprio and his mom 2 stars
4/09/00 saMas Too many plot holes. could have been more entertaining 4 stars
4/04/00 Tim Total Shit Ass 1 stars
3/28/00 Zappa Not a good adaptation, but probably ok if your standards aren't that high. 3 stars
3/27/00 Coolio The best fucking movie i have ever seen. 5 stars
3/23/00 Laura Not bad for a Leo Dicap film 4 stars
3/22/00 Brigid McFoster If you can get over the fact that it is not like the book you may just think it is okay 3 stars
3/21/00 rebecca great movie!! 4 stars
3/19/00 Leonardo Dicaprio Adventure, action, comedy, and all round excellent 5 stars
3/19/00 MR HOLLYWOOD!! Leonardo should stick to SINKING! All i can say is BOORRRIINNGGGG 2 stars
3/17/00 DK Not a get away from the bad guys as previews suggest 4 stars
3/16/00 KEVIN DALEY TERRIBLE 1 stars
3/14/00 Lame-Oh WTH? Gilligan's Island on ludes 1 stars
3/11/00 Pix everything about this film is crap 1 stars
3/09/00 m0vieboy The whole video game scene ruined the movie!! 2 stars
3/02/00 Ben Ryan WTF? Nothing like the previews make you think. Good location shots, horrible acting. 3 stars
3/02/00 Bornslippy ripped the novel apart, only commentable aspects were music and cinematography 2 stars
2/29/00 Captain Highcrime A "Gilligan's Island" tale strictly for the girls and their "little buddy" vibrators. 3 stars
2/24/00 Bozo Not half as bad as you miserable cocksuckers are making it out to be 4 stars
2/21/00 toneely sucked so bad 1 stars
2/21/00 Chartsy Horrible reviews elsewhere lowered my expectations I think. 4 stars
2/21/00 Mr. Kramitall I Know What You Did Last Summer on vacation... horrible! 1 stars
2/21/00 Overflow Bitch Not as good as I had hoped, but still a fresh change, and Leo was pretty good. 4 stars
2/21/00 amy r. dawson pretty damned good. 4 stars
2/20/00 Melissa Good flick, I like Leo better now. More entertaining than the book. 4 stars
2/18/00 Lame-Oh The only answer to Leo's crummy acting... he's one lousy pissant. 1 stars
2/18/00 Mortis I enojyed the movie for what it was... a movie. I was entralled. 4 stars
2/18/00 Matthew Bartley Very good and interesting 4 stars
2/15/00 Kyle Broflovski Leo's about to lose his mojo...and it shows... 3 stars
2/15/00 Neil Austin Not a bad film, stop comparing every Boyle film to Trainspotting, cause he won't top it. 4 stars
2/14/00 JJ a real stinker, 1 stars
2/14/00 Chris Wheeler Spent the whole time thinking of better things I could be doing. 1 stars
2/14/00 Cheaps Better than I thought. Entertaining. 4 stars
2/13/00 Roman Hmmm it was very interesting... 3 stars
2/13/00 majawat A pretty, bad movie 3 stars
2/13/00 toneely This movie sucked really bad. I didn't care if they all had got ate by sharks 1 stars
2/12/00 Terrance and Philip this movie was better than looking for pennies up my bum!<BR>ASS-TASTIC! 5 stars
2/12/00 Gavin Moore This movie is a rental at best. I feel raped for spending 14 dollars. 1 stars
2/11/00 Catherine Leo is gay, Gay, GAY!!!!! 1 stars
2/11/00 Lame-Oh Goddam this trash! That Leo is one sorry-ass maggot. Bitchslap that miserable puke! 1 stars
2/10/00 Bob Jones Its got that fag from titanic in it, it sucks the _fat_ one 1 stars
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  11-Feb-2000 (R)
  DVD: 22-Oct-2002


  09-Mar-2000 (MA)

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