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The Beach (2000)

aka The Beach

"Somewhere on this planet it must exist."

Directed By: 
Details: 119 mins · English, French, svenska, Srpski, Thai · R (USA)

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Starts as just another annoying tale of naive Western kids indulging themselves in a foreign land. Then things turn dark and get a little more interesting, but it's still very lightweight. Richard's descent into madness is abrupt and unconvincing, and most characters and the commune itself are sketched with barely any detail.

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Taglines:

"Somewhere on this planet it must exist."

"It's the experience that matters."

"It really was some kind of paradise."

"Paradise Found - Innocence Lost."

"Innocence never lasts forever."

Plot:

Richard (Leonardo DiCaprio), an American college student in Southeast Asia for the summer, goes to Thailand with the intention of experiencing something radically different from his familiar life. He meets Daffy (Robert Carlyle), a Scottish traveler who is crazy and rants on about a beach paradise on a secret island and the parasites of civilization. Daffy later commits suicide but leaves Richard a map to the island, convincing him that it exists.

Richard meets Françoise (Virginie Ledoyen) and her boyfriend, Étienne (Guillaume Canet), and persuades them to accompany him to the island, partly out of an infatuation with Françoise. They travel from Bangkok to the shores of Ko Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, where Richard befriends a pair of American surfers. They talk excitedly about the myth of the beach and how it has an almost unlimited supply of marijuana. Richard does not admit his knowledge, but copies his map and slides it under their door the next morning.

To finally reach the island, Richard, Françoise and Étienne must swim across to it. When they first arrive on the island, they come across an enormous marijuana plantation guarded by local farmers armed with AK-47 assault rifles. They manage to evade detection. After jumping off a high cliff and landing in a lake below, they are seen by Keaty (Paterson Joseph), who takes them to the beach community. They are cautiously interrogated by the island's leader Sal (Tilda Swinton) regarding their knowledge of the island, but are accepted. The trio are introduced to everybody and over the next few days go on to become integrated into the community.

One night while Richard and Françoise are walking down the beach, she tells him that she is falling in love with him. They swim out into the ocean to look at a swarm of bioluminescent plankton, where Françoise kisses Richard and has sex with him on the beach. Despite their attempts to keep the romance a secret, the whole island finds out about it, including Étienne. Although devastated, Étienne says he will not stand in their way if Francoise is happier with Richard.

At first the island and its community seem to live up to their idyllic reputation. Richard swims out into the ocean to catch fish with a harpoon and is attacked by a young mako shark, but he stabs it to death with a knife, which gains him much admiration. Events take a turn for the worse when Richard is chosen to accompany Sal to the mainland to acquire supplies, where Richard is inadvertently reunited with the American surfers who are preparing to go to the beach with two girls. Sal overhears their conversation about the copy of the map and confronts Richard, who admits his guilt. In exchange for Sal's silence and Richard's return to the island, Sal blackmails Richard into having sex with her that night.

When they return to the island, everything returns to normal until the Swedish fishermen Sten (Magnus Lindgren) and Christo (Staffan Kihlbom) are attacked by a shark while fishing in the ocean. Sten dies almost immediately and Christo is severely injured. The only options for Christo are to go to the mainland to get medical help or stay on the island and take his chances. Christo chooses to stay, not wanting to go near the water after his encounter with the shark, but Sal refuses to allow a doctor to come to the island. Christo's condition worsens, consistently lowering the morale of the whole community, so they take him out into the middle of the jungle and leave him to die. However, Étienne, disgusted by the group's decision, vows to stay with Christo.

Later, Sal observes the American surfers on the neighbouring island and assigns Richard the task of watching them so he can obtain the map and destroy it. While he is waiting for the surfers to arrive, Françoise shows up, furious and heartbroken, saying that Sal has told everybody about her affair with Richard at Koh Phangan. Richard cannot cope with his task and retreats into the forest where he becomes temporarily insane, believing that he is communing with the long-dead Daffy, and by this point declaiming (in voice over narration) "the longer I'm away from the others, the less I miss them". He evades the other islanders and sets lethal traps in an attempt to keep them at bay, at times hallucinating that he is a character in a video game.

Meanwhile, the surfers reach the island but are discovered and killed by the marijuana farmers before they can get to the beach. Richard witnesses their executions and retreats to the community to convince Étienne and Françoise to leave the island, believing that all their lives are now in danger. Étienne refuses, not wanting to leave the emaciated Christo, whose leg has become gangrenous. When the other two briefly leave the tent, Richard tearfully smothers Christo to death in a mercy killing to put him out of his misery. When he leaves the tent however, he is struck across the face by a farmer and knocked unconscious.

Release Dates:

Theatrical : 2000-02-11 : United States of America

DVD : 2001-01-09

2000-02-02 : United States of America