Vicenarian 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.
After his father's death, Gilbert has to care for his mentally-disabled brother, Arnie, and his morbidly obese mother. This situation is suddenly challenged though, when love unexpectedly walks into his life.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Sten is carried out of the water draped around his friend's back, there is no sign of a shark bite to his right side, but when he reaches the community, the shark bite to his right side is visible. 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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This film had some differences from the novel that wasn't seen in the film:
Richard's obsession with war and video games is explained a bit more in the novel.
Keaty is not obsessed with his Game Boy in the film.
Richard never sleeps with Françoise despite having feelings for her, which he thinks are reciprocated, saying that he considers Étienne a good guy and would not want to do that to him.
Richard never sleeps with Sal, nor is it Sal who accompanies him to the mainland for supplies, but rather a character called Jed (who patrols the island's perimeter) who does not appear in the film. In the book, Jed is the person who leads Richard, Etienne, and Françoise to the community, not Keaty.
Ella (who works for Unhygienix), Jean (the leader of the gardening detail), Cassie (who works for Bugs), Jesse (who works in the gardening detail), Moshe (the head of the second fishing detail), and the two unnamed Yugoslavian girls (who work for Moshe) do not appear in the film.
The part where Keaty catches a dead squid that gives some of the island's inhabitants food poisoning is not in the film.
Karl escaping from the island in the beach community's main boat was not in the film.
The ending is different from the book's, which had Richard, Françoise, Étienne, Keaty, and Jed attempting to escape from the now crumbling community. In the book's epilogue after their successful escape, they move into their respective lives. Richard loses touch with Étienne and Françoise yet finds it hard to be totally freed of the effects of his experiences in that "parallel universe."
Richard never received an e-mail from Françoise with a picture after their farewell.
Is this merely `Survivor' without the million-dollar payoff? Or is it a modern vision of James Hilton's most famous novel? For those too young to have any memories of `Lost Horizon,' `The Beach' may seem like a wildly new and original work. And, as this is, essentially, a narcissistic youth fantasy starring teen-idol Leonardo Di Caprio, chances are that most of the film's audience will indeed be hovering somewhere near the puberty mark. Since the cast of characters is so youthful to begin with, the film is able to dispense with or, at the most, treat obliquely one of the major themes that runs through `Lost Horizon,' that of the universal lure of Eternal Youth.
Di Caprio stars as Richard, a young man so bored with the mundane rituals of modern civilized life that he journeys alone to Bangkok to partake of the exotic experiences a more primitive life has to offer. While there, he encounters a seeming madman who, right before his suicide, draws a map for Richard revealing the whereabouts of a small tropical island, guaranteed to be a Shangri-la for any person clever and daring enough to get there. Recruiting two of his hotel neighbors a young French couple to accompany him, Richard sets out to find his own private place in the sun. But life is never quite that simple and the three soon discover that the island is already inhabited by other jaded tourists who have set up a carefree, thriving community far away from both the amenities and problems of the modern world.
This concept of discovering a secret, pristine and uncorrupted paradise has a timeless appeal and pull. And, as long as `The Beach' hews closely to this theme, it remains a reasonably interesting film, for who cannot identify at least partially with the lure of this idea? The tricky part for the filmmakers tackling this theme is to make this unlikely situation seem real and believable. Unfortunately, in the case of `The Beach,' the people who comprise this out-of-the-way community seem, for the most part, way too agreeable and cooperative. This is like a Club Med resort without the room service. Survival here doesn't seem like much of a struggle and there rarely ever seems to be much in the way of intense disagreements and arguments amongst the group's members. We wonder, for instance, why, without monetary compensation or incentives of any kind for that matter, one man does all the cooking while another man does all the building. As far as we can tell, they do virtually all the work on the island while the others frolic on the beach playing volleyball all day. `Lost Horizon' was a certified fantasy `The Beach' aspires to realism yet it needs a bit more grit to really achieve the truth it is after. Yes, grim reality does occasionally poke its ugly head into this insulated world from time to time in the form of man-eating sharks and gun-toting pot harvesters - but the characters themselves lack psychological depth and clarity. With rare exceptions, the people on the island seem to exist in a state of unlikely harmony, exhibiting little or none of the human conflict, personal jealousy or power politics one would reasonably expect to find in such a situation. Then when, late in the game, the film develops grand illusions of becoming a meaningful and grim look into the dark heart of madness, `The Beach' becomes both pretentious and laughable. This is particularly the case because Richard seems to drift in and out of madness with a dexterity that would leave Sigmund Freud himself speechless and dumbfounded.
`The Beach' may well appeal to all those viewers who found the phony, pseudo-adventure theatrics of `Survivor' realistic and compelling. Indeed, the best part of the film is the ending when all these pathetic, craven softies from civilization, who fancy themselves rugged individualists, get their final comeuppance. Those of us who have long ago freely capitulated to the lure of all our assorted modern amenities happily get the last laugh.
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