The Beach (2000)

Genres - Drama, Adventure  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Drama, Jungle Film, Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - Feb 11, 2000 (USA)  |   Run Time - 119 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Michael Hastings

A post-Titanic Leonardo Di Caprio does little for his heartthrob cache in director Danny Boyle's The Beach, a rigorously downbeat adaptation of Alex Garland's international best-seller. Clearly attempting to shed his good-boy image, Di Caprio plays the role of impudent backpacker Richard with equal parts cockiness, athleticism, and apathy. He's like an arrogant Lonely Planet travel guide. Boyle's hyperkinetic visual style only accentuates the contradictions inherent in the script: Richard is shown in a video-game fantasy, though we've never seen him touch a Nintendo; he has submerged sex with French traveler Francoise (Virginie Ledoyen), though she shows little interest in him; and he degenerates into an Apocalypse Now-style dementia, but the transgression ultimately has little to do with his character. The film's best scenes occur on the mainland, where Di Caprio goes about his business like an authentic bohemian tourist. Robert Carlyle also makes a memorable impression in these early scenes, as a demented refugee from the idyllic, eponymous island commune.