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With: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tilda Swinton, Virginie Ledoyen, Guillaume Canet, Staffan Kihlbom, Robert Carlyle, Zelda Tinska, Peter Gevisser
Written by: John Hodge, based on a novel by Alex Garland
Directed by: Danny Boyle
MPAA Rating: R for violence, some strong sexuality, language and drug content
Running Time: 119
Date: 02/02/2000
IMDB

The Beach (2000)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Like Sand in the Shorts

by Jeffrey M. Anderson

After his considerable success starring in the runaway phenomenon Titanic (1997), Leonardo DiCaprio is now a "star" who is making "vehicles" as opposed to an "actor" who is making "movies." (Never mind that the boat was the true star of Titanic.) Remember, DiCaprio was once an Oscar-nominated actor capable of dissolving into a role, as in 1993's What's Eating Gilbert Grape?. So the question now is, as a DiCaprio vehicle, does The Beach live up to the incredible standard set by Titanic? The answer is: of course not. Nothing much could. But even on its own terms The Beach offers very little.

The Beach is a slow-moving and derivative thriller. While it thumped along, I had plenty of time to ponder the other and better movies that it reminded me of: The Mosquito Coast (1986), The Deer Hunter (1978), and Apocalypse Now (1979), as well as William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies. Seemingly aware of these easy comparisons, The Beach even has the gall to show us a clip of Apocalypse Now, playing in a Bangkok movie theater.

On vacation in Bangkok, DiCaprio is given a map to a legendary island with a perfect beach. Along with a beautiful French girl (Virgine Ledoyen) and her boyfriend (Guillaume Canet) he makes his way there only to find that it's already inhabited by a secret society of beach-worshipers. From there the story becomes a series of episodes, most of which we've seen before: DiCaprio falls for the French girl, DiCaprio fights off a shark attack, DiCaprio runs around with his shirt off. And, somewhere in the last 30 minutes, DiCaprio supposedly loses his mind. But it conveniently comes back for the finish.

You won't hear in the ads that The Beach is the fourth film by the talented trio of writer John Hodge, director Danny Boyle, and producer Andrew Macdonald, who brought us the brilliant and inspired Trainspotting (1996). Nothing in The Beach can compare to the scene in Trainspotting of young Scottish junkies stealing TV's to the tune of Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life." Those are two things that The Beach lacks: lust and life.

Probably girls younger than DiCaprio will love The Beach, but fans of Titanic and Trainspotting will find it forgettable, long, and aggravating.