Updated On: January 18, 2024 by   Yasmin Elwan   Yasmin Elwan  

on chesil beach



1h 50min

Understanding the Unspoken Emotions of On Chesil Beach (2017)

Are you a fan of love stories that explore the complexities of relationships? Well, look no further than On Chesil Beach. If you’ve ever struggled with societal pressure and sexual freedom within a marriage, this film is sure to resonate with you. With Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle at the helm, along with director Dominic […]



Are you a fan of love stories that explore the complexities of relationships? Well, look no further than On Chesil Beach. If you’ve ever struggled with societal pressure and sexual freedom within a marriage, this film is sure to resonate with you.

With Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle at the helm, along with director Dominic Cooke, On Chesil Beach takes us on a journey through the ups and downs of newlyweds navigating their honeymoon in 1962 England. So buckle up for an emotional ride full of heartbreak and naivety as we delve into this powerful romance drama!

What is On Chesil Beach About?

On Chesil Beach is a 2017 film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novella of the same name. The story is set in England in the early 1960s and revolves around newlyweds Florence Ponting (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward Mayhew (Billy Howle). The film primarily unfolds during their honeymoon, which takes an unexpected turn on Chesil Beach in Dorset.

The central plot revolves around the couple’s struggle with intimacy and sexual expectations on their wedding night. As Florence and Edward attempt to consummate their marriage, they find themselves facing deep-seated fears, societal pressures, and personal insecurities that threaten to unravel their relationship. The film explores themes of sexual anxiety, societal norms, and the impact of emotional baggage on a young marriage.

Through flashbacks, the narrative delves into the characters’ backgrounds, revealing the complexities that contribute to their struggles. On Chesil Beach is a poignant exploration of the intricacies of human relationships, capturing a moment of profound significance that reverberates through the lives of the protagonists.

A Closer Look at the Characters

On Chesil Beach brings to life the complex characters of Florence Ponting and Edward Mayhew. The film centres around the newlyweds, offering a nuanced exploration of their backgrounds, fears, and the challenges they face on their wedding night.

Florence Ponting: A Portrait of Elegance and Burden

Florence, portrayed by Saoirse Ronan, emerges as a character shaped by her privileged background and a family marked by intellectual pursuits. Her musical talents and refined demeanour mask a profound internal struggle.

Florence’s character is defined by her deep-seated sexual anxiety, rooted in a traumatic incident from her past. The film delicately navigates her emotional baggage, illustrating the impact it has on her ability to navigate intimacy with Edward.

Edward Mayhew: The Struggle with Societal Expectations

Billy Howle brings Edward Mayhew to life, a character aspiring to a more bohemian and artistic lifestyle than his conservative family might prefer. His dreams clash with societal expectations, setting the stage for conflicts within the narrative.

Edward’s journey is marked by the societal pressure to conform to traditional masculine roles, particularly in the context of his marital expectations. The film unfolds the layers of his character as he grapples with societal norms and personal desires.

Supporting Characters

  • Eleanor Mayhew (Anne-Marie Duff): As Edward’s mother, Eleanor’s character contributes to the exploration of familial dynamics and their impact on Edward’s choices. Eleanor’s character serves as a lens through which the audience witnesses the clash between generational perspectives and societal expectations. Her interactions with Edward and her reactions to his choices provide insight into the challenges faced by individuals seeking to break free from traditional moulds.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Ponting (Adrian Scarborough and Emily Watson): Florence’s parents add depth to her character, revealing the contrasting worlds from which the newlyweds emerge. The film subtly portrays the tension between the Ponting family’s expectations and Florence’s personal desires. This conflict becomes a central theme in the narrative, adding layers to Florence’s character and the challenges she faces in navigating her own aspirations amidst societal pressures.
  • The Waiter (Bebe Cave): A brief but impactful character, the waiter becomes a catalyst for pivotal moments in the narrative.

Themes Explored Through Character Dynamics

On Chesil Beach explores several themes through the intricate dynamics of its characters, delving into the complexities of human relationships and societal expectations. The character dynamics serve as a lens through which the following themes are explored:

Sexual Anxiety and Societal Pressures

Delving into the theme of sexual anxiety, the film unravels Florence Ponting’s character, exposing a past trauma that profoundly influences her views on intimacy. The characters wrestle with societal expectations and norms related to sexuality in the early 1960s, underscoring how cultural pressures impact personal relationships.

Personal Struggles and Emotional Baggage

  • Internal Conflicts: Both Florence and Edward Mayhew carry personal struggles and emotional baggage that influence their interactions. The narrative explores the weight of these internal conflicts on their ability to navigate intimacy.
  • Impact on Relationships: The film underscores how individual struggles can impact romantic relationships, shaping the characters’ responses to each other and adding layers to their emotional journey.

Socioeconomic Disparities and Familial Influences

Edward’s aspirations for a bohemian lifestyle clash with the conservative values of Florence’s upper-class family. The film examines how socioeconomic disparities and familial influences contribute to conflicts within relationships.

The narrative also explores the clash between generational perspectives, highlighting how societal norms and family expectations influence the characters’ choices.

Challenges Faced by Individuals Seeking Autonomy

  • Individual Choices vs. Societal Expectations: Edward’s desire for autonomy and a non-traditional lifestyle poses a challenge to societal expectations. The film explores the tensions that arise when individuals strive for personal freedom in the face of societal norms.
  • Breaking Conventions: The characters’ attempts to break free from conventional roles and expectations lead to personal and interpersonal challenges, reflecting broader societal shifts in the 1960s.

Impact of Familial Dynamics on Personal Choices

The film delves into the impact of parental expectations and influences on the characters’ choices. Eleanor Mayhew and Mr. and Mrs. Ponting represent parental figures whose values shape the trajectory of their children’s lives. The interplay of familial dynamics contributes to the conflicts within the narrative, and the characters must navigate the influence of their families on their personal choices.

Cast and Production

In On Chesil Beach (2017), Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle deliver powerful performances as the lead characters, Florence and Edward. Ronan brings her exceptional talent to portray Florence’s vulnerability and inner conflict, while Howle captures Edward’s charm and emotional struggles.

Their chemistry on screen is palpable, making their characters’ journey all the more impactful. Director Dominic Cooke skillfully guides these performances with a keen eye for detail and an understanding of the novel’s nuances.

His direction enhances the emotional depth of the story, capturing both the heartbreak and tender moments with sensitivity. Together, Ronan, Howle, and Cooke create a captivating cinematic experience that leaves a lasting impression on viewers.

What Do Critics and Audiences Say About On Chesil Beach?

On Chesil Beach received mixed reviews from both critics and audiences. The film holds a 68% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus stating, On Chesil Beach presents a well-acted and solidly crafted adaptation of a small gem from Ian McEwan’s literary canon, even if its effect is somewhat muted.

Critics praised the performances of Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle, as well as the film’s emotional depth and period detail. However, some found the pacing slow and the narrative lacking in impact.

Audience reviews on platforms like IMDb (6.3/10) and Metacritic also reflect a range of opinions, with some viewers appreciating the film’s sensitive portrayal of complex relationships, while others found it slow-paced and emotionally distant.

Overall, On Chesil Beach seems to have elicited a variety of reactions, with some finding its nuanced storytelling and performances compelling, while others felt it fell short of expectations.

Where can I watch On Chesil Beach?

You can watch On Chesil Beach on the following streaming platforms:
– Starz: On Chesil Beach is available to stream on Starz in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Amazon Prime Video: On Chesil Beach is available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video in most countries. You can also watch it for free if you have a Starz subscription through Amazon Prime Video.
Vudu: On Chesil Beach is available to rent or purchase on Vudu in most countries.
Google Play: On Chesil Beach is available to rent or purchase on Google Play in most countries.

Is there a second sequel to the film?

No, there is no second sequel to the film On Chesil Beach. There is only one film adaptation of the novel, which was released in 2017. The novel itself is a standalone story and does not have a sequel.

What is the hotel in On Chesil Beach?

The hotel in the film On Chesil Beach is the Moonfleet Manor Hotel located on Chesil Beach in Dorset, England. The hotel is a beautiful Georgian manor house that dates back to the 18th century.

Where is Chesil Beach located?

Chesil Beach, situated along the southern coast of England in Dorset, spans 29 km, extending from Portland to West Bay. It’s one of the three significant shingle beach formations in Britain.

On Chesil Beach is a poignant film that explores the complexities of love, intimacy, and societal pressure. With strong performances from Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle, the movie captures the heartache and struggles faced by young newlyweds in 1962 England. It’s totally worth watching if you’re into romantic period dramas with deep meanings.

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