A frustrating yet fascinating film, The Woman on the Beach is one of those pictures that make one wonder intensely at what might have been rather than what is. According to legend, director Jean Renoir was forced to drastically re-cut Woman after a disastrous preview, eventually shelving about a third of the film and obviously coming up with a finished product that is far different than the one he originally envisioned. (The re-editing also accounts for some curious continuity lapses in the final version.) What is left is a moody, dream-like work that still doesn't make things easy for the audience, suggesting motivations rather than explicitly stating them and offering hints at character traits that may or may not be accurate. On top of this, there's more than a trace of film noir to the proceedings, although it doesn't fulfill the formulaic expectations it sets up as part of the genre. Ultimately, Woman is unsatisfying, and to some viewers it will simply be dull; but others will get drawn in by much of the richness that exists in the surviving version. Certainly all should agree on Joan Bennett's fatale-istic performance and should find much to appreciate in the work of Robert Ryan and Charles Bickford as well. The moody, atmospheric cinematography is also worthy of praise.