Film – On Chesil Beach

Film – On Chesil Beach

This film feels like the epitome of the early 1960s. We meet university graduates on their honeymoon night looking to consummate their marriage.  Not helped by intrusive staff at their luxurious but pokey Dorset B&B, we go through every bit of the awkwardness of two people in love who desperately don’t want to let the other down but have little clue as to what to do.

This ends disastrously and the couple then live their whole lives apart due to one angry moment after Florence reveals she is not bothered about the sex part of the marriage.

I understand the book upon which this is based is short but this one part of the film seemed to go on for a painfully long time. What the film is really about is how Edwards spends his life without Florence, mostly with regret. He realises quite soon that he should have given the woman he loved more time to realise that rather than be repulsed by it, sex should be gratifying for both. In time this could have lead to a family of their own.

Their family backgrounds were polar opposites. Her’s was a well-to-do conservative family and her prudish upbringing left her unprepared for her first sexual encounter. A violinist, all she knew, having met Edward when he stumbled into her CND gathering after both were celebrating graduating, that she loved him. Edward was planning to be a writer but got cajoled into working for his father-in-law in order to support them. His mum was left with mental issues after having a severe blow to her head in a shocking accident and his dad was a supportive, sensitive soul.

To be a virgin upon marriage is unthinkable to now when most wouldn’t introduce their partner to their parents until they’ve at lease consummated their relationship. Indeed, so many don’t bother with marriage anyway.

On Chesil Beach is beautiful and tender but oh so sad.



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