Twenty-something Richard travels to Thailand and finds himself in possession of a strange map. Rumours state that it leads to a solitary beach paradise, a tropical bliss - excited and intrigued, he sets out to find it.
Garland's novel centers on a young nicotine-addicted traveler named Richard, an avid pop-culture buff with a particular love for video games and Vietnam War movies. While at a hotel in Bangkok, he finds a map left by his strange, whacked-out neighbor, who just committed suicide. The map supposedly leads to a legendary island paradise where some other wayward souls have settled. Written by
Mike Arndt <email@example.com>
The actual beach is not totally surrounded and enclosed by mountains, hiding it from the sea. In fact, there is a large gap between two gigantic boulders, and the films editors superimposed a fake mountain in post-production. See more »
In the burial scene, the corpse blinks while the sand falls on his eyes. See more »
My name is Richard. So what else do you need to know? Stuff about my family, or where I'm from? None of that matters. Not once you cross the ocean and cut yourself loose, looking for something more beautiful, something more exciting and yes, I admit, something more dangerous. So after eighteen hours in the back of an airplane, three dumb movies, two plastic meals, six beers and absolutely no sleep, I finally touch down; in Bangkok.
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Richard is sick of the typical tourist crap filled with armies of vacationers going to the requisite sites. He encounters Daffy, a slightly unhinged man, at his hotel. After his suicide, he finds this map to a secret lagoon on a distant island. He recruits a local visiting French couple, Francoise and Etienne, to come with him. Unfortunately, half of this paradisaical island is occupied by drug dealers growing their drugs. When they get there, they find another society within ours, secreted away from the world. The leader, Sal, played ruthlessly by Swinton, in one of her best performances, even makes a guy with a bad tooth have it extracted with pliers. She asks Richard what he thinks, when he concurs with her action, she looks approvingly at him. The film is two halves; the first half is a nine star movie and worth owning the film for. It is a study of what human beings will do to each other to hang on to their prized possessions. Richard left a copy of the map with some stoners who begin an ill fated journey to the island. Their encounter with the drug lord and his men begins the unraveling of paradise. Even before this, with the tooth, Sal begins dominating the others and causing suffering in order to maintain both her hegemony over the group and control of paradise.
One of the Swedes gets bitten badly by a shark, Sal refuses to allow him proper medical attention. What is going on in the movie is a clever depiction of the reality that human beings bring their nature with them wherever they go. Richard slowly begins drifting away existentially like Daffy. Sal blackmails Richard into sex, this shatters his friendship with Etienne and his relationship with Franscoise. The first half is such a great piece of work but the second half killed the film at the box office. Richard is ordered to monitor the approaching stoners, the isolation causes him to flip out like Daffy. The problem is the movie spends a half an hour with Richard out in the bush running around and acting goofy. Finally we get the showdown and expulsion of the group by the drug lord after he kills the stoners. Like Sunshine, this is a movie of two sections; the first half is why I own the movie. The second half is Richard interminably running around in the jungle and going bonkers. He sneaks up on the sleeping drug guys, makes scary faces, steals stuff then runs away. The length and the weirdness of the narrative doomed this at the box office. Leo does a very capable job in this movie; if you are a fan of his you will want to watch the movie.
Boyle's point is also why I own the work. Human nature is inescapable; the vacationers find their golden paradise but they forgot one tiny detail: they carry all the bad parts of their nature with them. Sal's God complex grows so out of control, starting with a tooth, letting a man die and finally trying to kill Richard to retain her Eden. Boyle's film is a cautionary tale not far from Lord Of The Flies. You can travel wherever you like but the reality of human nature travels with you. Like Mosquito Coast, Sal has no checks upon her authority. It begins growing out of control and her desire to possess this Beach causes her to transform into a hideous, cruel monster. Like Forbidden Planet, the monsters from the Id are with you wherever you may go. The movie is flawed; the second half is quite slow and boring. Yet, I recommend it for all those who use existential flight, by visiting endless tourist sites, to learn the lesson this movie wisely teaches. The reality of human life is so much of the same wherever you may go, as these poor people discover the hard way. Worth Owning.
"One Has Lived Neither Long Nor Well If One Has Not Seen The Hand That, Considerately, Kills." Nietzsche
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