Volume 93, Issue 76
Tuesday, February 15, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Rainy days at Beach
Photo by Peter Mountain
"I WONDER WHO I'LL SLEEP WITH TODAY." Leonardo DiCaprio takes a break from his sad, tragic lifestyle to make the sad, tragic new movie, The Beach.
By Chris Belear
One can almost feel the buzz and excitement radiating from countless teenage girls as they flock into the theatre, awaiting the arrival of their long-absent silver screen god. They sit anxiously in their seats, boisterous and clammy, waiting for another chapter to what has simply become "Leo-mania."
In The Beach, a film adaptation of Alex Garland's novel about desire and the search for paradise, DiCaprio plays Richard, a young American who ventures to Thailand in search of simplicity and adventure.
A product of the Nintendo generation, Garland lives in a world where everything is electronic and automated with the purpose of enhancing and simplifying life. It is his desire to connect with someone which drives him to Thailand, however he soon discovers that even paradise has its problems.
The opening scenes, which show Richard wandering the hectic streets of Bangkok, are visually stunning and entertaining. A well-chosen soundtrack (comprised mainly of suitable techno and house beats) accompanies Richard as he cruises around a perfectly depicted urban background, exploring the scenery and the culture.
After checking into a seedy and steamy hotel in Bangkok, he encounters Daffy (Robert Carlyle), an old and hyperactive traveller ravaged by years of UV rays and drugs. Daffy promptly commits suicide, but not before giving Richard a map to a secret beach which promises to be a paradise on earth.
Richard hooks up with a French couple, Francoise (Virginie Ledoyen) and Etienne (Guillame Canet) and persuades them to go on the journey with him. From there, they brave sharks, evade AK-47-toting dope farmers, jump cliffs and smoke drugs, all on the way to finding the lost beach.
The film remains suspenseful and stylish up to this point, but begins a slow and steady decline afterwards. Upon arriving at the beach, the three discover a secluded community of young half-naked and bronzed travellers and are instantly welcomed by this Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue-esque community. The first images of the beach and its exotic surroundings are awe-inspiring, coupled with fitting trance-like sounds from Moby, Underworld and Blur, among others. This combination of cinematography and music is by far the most enticing part of the film.
Of course, the fun can't last forever. Unfortunate accidents, lust, desire and petty jealousy afflict the group, tearing them apart. From here on, the film goes from surreal to simply boring. The weak script strays too far from Garland's brilliant novel and is unable to support what could have been a great movie about isolation robbing one's innocence.
That said, it is still an entertaining picture worth seeing for its superficiality. Boyle's effort is a beautifully packaged story on the outside, which is sure to entice both the mind and body with its provocative depictions of an exotic paradise.
All in all, The Beach tries too hard to be this generation's Apocalypse Now when it's just another pop culture flick intended to attract dollars rather than accolades. A closer look will surely disappoint, as the script fails to fully develop from a slumping, fragmented plot.
It will, however, keep the teenage girls buzzing as they sit back and take in some unadulterated "Leo-mania."
Copyright © The Gazette 2000