The Beach (2000)

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Sally
If I had seen The Beach when it came out in 2000 I probably would have loved it. For starters, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, who I had a huge crush on at the time. Secondly, at the time I thought the idea of traveling the world while staying in ultra cheap hostels seemed super romantic and fun. Thirdly, I would have thought the whole thing was super deep and arty.

Maybe I’m too old for this now, but the only thing I liked about this was Leonardo DiCaprio, because who am I kidding? I still have a huge crush on him. Everything else about this movie is pretty crap, though.

I’m sure staying in dirty hostels is an experience, but I don’t regret not having done it. This movie almost makes me glad I didn’t, because everyone staying in these cheap accommodations are unbearably obnoxious and self-involved. But now that I think about it, that’s just a part of being in your late teens/early 20s. You think you know everything, and on those rare occasions when you actually do know what you’re talking about, you manage to come off sounding pretentious and condescending.

This movie is clearly targeting that age range, because some of the cinematography choices are bizarre. Most of the movie is fairly standard, but out of nowhere it throws in scenes reminiscent of music videos and video games. I don’t really care for it, mostly because these scenes add nothing to the value of the movie. They’re a distraction if anything. A really lame attempt at being “cool” and edgy.

And I know I said I liked DiCaprio in this, but let me qualify that: I like his actual acting. His voice overs are annoying, and again, add little to the story.

I also have vague memories of this movie’s trailer and commercials, and always thought it was a murder mystery/thriller. It probably would have been better if it had taken that angle.

Rating: D


Ben
I remember really liking this film when it first came out. I never understood the hate for Leonardo DiCaprio. I think he’s one of the best actors of the past 20 years. He is of course, best remembered for his role in Titanic. Which is funny because I think it’s one of his best roles. Nearly everything he’s done since Titanic has been brilliant. This film is not great, but it’s not because of Leo, who tries hard with a muddled storyline that doesn’t really have a plot.

The main premise of the film is a tourist named Richard (DiCaprio) who is travelling through Thailand. Along the way he meets a drug addled Scotsman (Robert Carlyle) who tells Richard about a secret island community and gives him a map how to get there. Richard and two friends go to find this mysterious idyllic island off the coast of Thailand. They eventually find it and are accepted into the community by their leader Sal (Tilda Swinton) only to realise this island paradise isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

My biggest problem with this film is the characters are very unlikable. If I don’t like them, I care very little about their plight throughout the film. There’s almost no backstory for Richard and there’s even less for his two French friends. If I got to know them a little better at the start of the film, I might be more interested in their story at the end of it.

The best part of the film is the cinematography. This film takes full advantage of the beautiful beaches and islands of Thailand and this is one of the prettiest films I’ve seen in some time.

I didn’t like this film as much as I remember when it first came out. Leo tries hard, but a weak story and character development makes his story uninteresting. It also contains one of the most laughable recreations of a video game I’ve ever seen that doesn’t fit the tone of this film one bit. Outside of Leo and the cinematography, there’s not much here.

Rating: C-

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