Beach, The

Rated: R
Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Carlyle, Tilda Swinton

They may as well have called this one “Paradise Lost” although I do believe that title is already taken … by something far more interesting than a story like this.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars an American “adventurer” who packed his bag and headed to the exotic locale of Bangkok in search of interesting “real life” experiences. So he ends up in a crummy bug infested hotel in the middle of the city where other “adventurers” have come to get drunk and act disgusting.

He meets a whacked out Scottish type named Daffy (Robert Carlyle) who babbles a lot about incomprehensible things except you do get the idea that somewhere in that babble he’s talking about a beach on a remote island that is so beautiful it’s like paradise.

So after seeing the trailers for the film time and time again and now the opening in which this beach is advertised as something out of this world, all I know is that when it does come around, it had better be something special.

So Daffy, in all his Scottish weirdness, entices Richard to make the forbidden journey, but not quite being the adventurer that he thinks he is, Richard has to drag a French couple from the next room to his into making the journey with him. Off they go in search of paradise and “real-life” experience, Richard, Francoise (Virginie Ledoyen) and Etienne (Guillaume Canet) – 3 beautiful young people.

It’s not a very tough journey despite how Richard’s endless voice overs try to make you believe it is. Before you know it, they’ve come to the island of their dreams; marijuana grows head high and they’re ready to start rolling joints. That is, before they spot the Uzi-toting “farmers” guarding the fields. Paradise has a bump in the road.

But fear not. It’s still there, just a little hidden by the jungle. They soon meet up with a multi-national group of hippie “adventurers”, tilling the land, fishing off the beach (yes it is gorgeous). Could this be the advertised paradise?

The group lead by bossy broad Sal (Tilda Swinton) welcomes them with the proviso that that they tell no one what they’ve found. Poor Richard already broke that rule before he left the city, but he keeps his mouth shut. So they live happily among the new natives, fishing and tilling the soil. The first thing you notice is that the lovey-dovey group of Euro hippies has managed to keep from being annoyed by little tike hippies. I wonder how they managed it. They pretend to be happy with their independence from civilization until it comes time to go shopping in the city and then one by one they throw money (maybe they grew that too) at Richard and Sal to buy everything from the needed rice to batteries, newspapers, makeup and toothpaste and you name it. So much for their self-sufficiency. I believe the operative term here is “slumming”.

Paradise unravels for Richard bit by bit until he’s nearly as loony as Daffy was. He’s living an “Apocalypse Now” existence with visions of dopey Daffy dancing in his head.

In the end, this little group of “adventurers” has learned that sometimes it’s best to just stay home.

Lotta says: The Beach is definitely as advertised – beautiful, DiCaprio’s fine, Ledoyen’s quite lovely; the story is quite so, how shall we say, not so good and at times, quite so dumb.