On Chesil Beach

First Hit: Saoirse Ronan shows, once again, why she’s one of the top actors acting today.

When an actor can share a wide range of deeply felt feelings and emotions without saying a single word to draw the audience into each scene, pay attention.

This story is about two people, who've just married, attempting to sexually consummate their marriage. The film uses flashbacks to show their family history, issues, and the pressures they faced growing up and how it's affecting this new life together.

Ronan as Florence Ponting is a young lady with prodigious musical talents is being raised by her overbearing mother Violet (Emily Watson) and a pushy bullying father Geoffrey (Samuel West). Their opinions and control over Florence and her sister, Ruth's (Bebe Cave) lives is a key and important component of the film.

Then there is Edward Mayhew (Billy Howle), he’s living with a mother Marjorie (Anne-Marie Duff) who got hit by a moving train’s door and suffers mental issues. She can be found naked talking to birds in the backyard. His father Lionel (Adrian Scarborough) is long suffering taking care of his wife, the home, work and two daughters along with Edward. Their house is chaos and when he receives a letter stating that he’s #1 in the history tests he took, no one in his family cares.

Searching to find someone he can tell and who cares, he runs into Florence and it is love at first site.

The romance is wonderful yet void of much deep intimacy. They marry and when it comes to consummating the marriage through intimacy, they struggle.

The scenes during and after their sexual attempt are very strong and the amount and range of emotion shown by both actors was excellent.

The film takes the actors forward, some 40 years into the future and it is sweet to see how the film ends.

Ronan is phenomenal. As I’ve indicated in previous reviews, she’s the very best young actress around. She selects roles that are deep and complex and gives each character body and soul. Howle is very good here. He does a great job of portraying men’s insecurities and complexities. Watson is sternly great. West is strong as the intense demanding father. Cave is great. Duff is amazing as the mentally challenged mother. Scarborough is solidly good as Edwards’ father. Ian McEwan wrote a very strong screenplay. Dominic Cooke did a wonderful job of piecing this story together and getting excellent performances from his cast.

Overall: I loved the complexity of this film and how it addressed a difficult subject.