At a screening for Sunshine last month, Danny Boyle confessed that he felt directing romance was not his strength. After seeing his late-nineties bestseller adaptation The Beach, it’s easy to conclude that he’s on to something with that self-assessment. How else do you explain that when Leonardo DiCaprio and Virginie Ledoyen are having edenic sex on a remote Thai island, the most memorable thing about it is the Moby soundtrack?
In all fairness, Alex Garland’s tale of a utopian beach community run by an overprotective Tilda Swinton was hokum to begin with. At the time The Beach came out, I was living in my own tropical paradise of sorts, and like most things, it’s neither that good nor that bad. The Beach oversells its utopia at first, just to turn around and sell it out for the thriller finish, when sharks and evil pot farmers create trouble in paradise. But what kind of utopia doesn’t have a library or a movie theater, anyway?
The Beach. Danny Boyle, 2000. **