Leonardo DiCaprio returns to the big screen in The Beach, a very twisted, psychedelic, psychological "thriller." First off: Forget the previews. The movie trailers for The Beach are about as misleading as they get. They represent the first portion of the film, where everyone is happy and having fun, but beyond that, the movie is free to twist your mind. From the previews, it is told that the paradise ends, but not in anyway that you'll think of.
The Beach is a critic's nightmare. This has to be one of the hardest reviews I've written, because this movie is so off the wall it is difficult to decide whether I liked it or hated it (not I did not use love). The mixed feelings might say it right there, but that is only the beginning. On one end, there's the beautiful scenery, the great setup, the extraordinarily amazing girl, and one of the best performances I have seen out of DiCaprio. The acting is great throughout. On the other end, there is an adventure where no one is as perfect as they seem. The Beach drops us in to a hellish world, especially DiCaprio's, where no one is sane, and no one is a hero.
That is what I did not like about The Beach. DiCaprio's character, by the end, is unlikable. He starts out nice (although a little overdone on the cigarettes and pot) enough, gets the girl, and starts out a good relationship. Then he returns to civilization for a little bit and messes it all up, and its downhill from there. Everything in this movie is his fault. His fault! And what happens after that is probably the biggest character transition ever for a main character, and the results are not pretty. They are not happy. They are downright psychotic.
And on the other end, this psychotic fit is well crafted, well choreographed, and well directed. This movie should be up for an Oscar for its originality and creativity in direction. It reminds me most of last year's Fight Club, where the direction was just as strange. I won't go in to detail, but once Leo starts losing it, things get weird. And twisted.
Maybe you think I've given too much away, but trust me, you need it. I was taken aback by how different The Beach was from its trailers, and a little disappointed just because of that. If the previews had just hinted a tiny bit of the true nature of the film, I probably would have loved the film. However, that's not to say I did not enjoy it how it was presented to me, but somewhere I feel as though I would have liked it a little more if it had been a little bit more sane.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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