Review of ON CHESIL BEACH – Rated R

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ON CHESIL BEACH – Rated R – 1 hr. 50 mins.

Director: Dominic Cooke

Writer of Novel/Screenplay: Ian McEwan

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emily Watson, Samuel West and Billy Howle

Based on the Novel and Screenplay by Ian McEwan, we meet the young, beautiful and talented violinist Florence (Saoirse Ronan), being swept off her feet by the extremely handsome, yet somewhat socially awkward Edward Mayhew (Billy Howle). As their infatuation for one another continues to grow, it seems that it’s time for Edward to “pop the question”, exacerbating Florence’s growing tensions about giving up her present life for marriage, and the growing anxiety she is having about “the wedding night”.

When the day has finally arrived, and Florence and Edward head to Chesil Beach to start their lives together as husband and wife, it seems that not even the beauty and serenity of Chesil Beach can wash away Florence’s discontentment with this entire situation. Loving Edward, but not wishing to share her bed with him every night…Edward is flabbergasted by the situation that has arisen, having never fathomed in a hundred years that his wife would not want to be in a sexual relationship once marriage vows were exchanged. Now, Edward must content with staying with his less than promiscuous new wife, and face the anguish that apparently lies ahead for both of them if they stay together, based solely on the love they do truly have for one another, but without the sexual part of their relationship, which Edward needs, and desperately wants for his future…

I give ON CHESIL BEACH a rating of WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON NETFLIX or STREAMING: I so love Saoirse Ronan, and absolutely adored her 2015’s BROOKLYN, and couldn’t get enough of her in last year’s LADY BIRD! But sadly, this time around, her stoic and very frigid performance as Florence, wasn’t as enjoyable to view as her previous films. Howle, on the other hand, was perfectly cast as the dotting and loving boyfriend, and then new husband, only to have all his dreams dashed on his wedding night. Sad too, was the way this film seemed to really drag on in places, with a story line that didn’t make the most of the fabulous actors that were cast to play within its frames. I was so hoping with McEwan writing the screenplay of his own novel, that the tension would be thick, and the characters illuminating throughout, but as it all concluded…I was just sad for the characters who ended up never fulfilling the lives they could have, had they stayed together…

Kathy Kaiser

Review of NOVITIATE – Rated R – 2 hrs 3 mins.

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NOVITIATE – Rated R – 2 hrs 3 mins.

Starring Margaret Qualley, Julianne Nicholson, Dianna Agron, Denis O’Hare and Melissa Leo 

Written and Directed by Margaret Betts – we venture into the early 1960’s Catholic Church, as we meet newly single mother Nora Harris (Julianne Nicholson) and her daughter Cathleen (Margaret Qualley), who seems to be heading down the path of righteousness, amongst the teachings and walls of the Catholic School she has just accepted a scholarship to…

As Cathleen finds the ways of the Catholic Faith to not only be appealing, but somehow a calling for her future, she declares at the young age of 17 her “Undying love for God” ~ and much to her mother’s dismay~ enters the near by convent to begin her instruction so she can become a nun…

As Nora pains over the loss of her only daughter, Cathleen finds that the teachings of the church, and the teachings and barbaric disciplines of the Reverend Mother (Melissa Leo) are becoming more confusing by the day, and she and her fellow novices to the church, and to this way of life, are all now struggling with what path in life they should truly follow …

When Cathleen continues to struggle with the path she must take regarding her faith, her sexuality and the loneliness of her present circumstance, which seems to be overwhelming, it is up to her to choose what is where her future leads, even though the Reverend Mother is hell bent on making sure she makes “the right decision”…

I give NOVITIATE a rating of WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON NETFLIX or STREAMING: Talk about a movie that is both provocative and a total downer…NOVIATIATE is both of these, yet little more. As a practicing Catholic, I was intrigued by the premise and storyline of this film, but was not surprised by it’s its anti-Catholicism message when it was all said and done. Qualley is exceptional as Cathleen, the young innocent, trying to find her place within the walls of a convent, rather than facing the temptations of the outside world. Nicholson is perfect too as the devoted mother, longing to have her daughter back in her life. Leo is riveting as well as the very scary Reverend Mother, who is as quick to criticize as she is to not put in place the VATICAN II teachings she has been instructed to initiate. Moving and provocative one minute, and then cruel and inhumane the next, I feel that this film is be best suited being viewed in the comfort of your own home, rather than heading out to theater, as that way if this storyline and subsequent material aren’t your cup of tea either, you aren’t out too much cash, when you decide to head out of the theater, before its all through…

Kathy Kaiser