SAOIRSE’S SEA­SIDE STORY

Ro­nan ex­els in an­other heart­break­ing role new­ly­wed let down so­ci­ety’s ex­pec­ta­tions

Irish Daily Mail - - It’s Friday! - by Brian Viner

IT’S a week where two very dif­fer­ent movies have caught my eye but both are wor­thy of a watch.

On Ch­e­sil Beach shares a theme of thwarted ro­mance with Dead­pool 2, but they are about as dif­fer­ent as two films could be.

It is the first cin­e­matic fea­ture by Do­minic Cooke, an ac­claimed the­atre di­rec­tor whose stage ex­per­tise shines from this sad, sen­si­tive, al­to­gether en­thralling adap­ta­tion of Ian McEwan’s novel. I confess I haven’t read it; my wife as­sured me I wouldn’t like it, on the ba­sis that noth­ing much hap­pens. Well, I’m in no po­si­tion to judge the book. But Cooke, work­ing from McEwan’s own screen­play, has cer­tainly turned the story of two young new­ly­weds into a com­pelling if at times ex­cru­ci­at­ing spec­ta­cle.

They are Ed­ward (Billy Howle) and Florence (Saoirse Ro­nan). We first meet them on the day of their wed­ding, af­ter they’ve arrived at a starchy ho­tel on the Dorset coast to be­gin their hon­ey­moon.

It is 1962, which as you’ll re­call from Philip Larkin’s oft-quoted poem An­nus Mirabilis, was a whole year be­fore the start of the sexual revo­lu­tion. There are cer­tainly no signs of its early tremors in their ho­tel room, where hus­band and wife ap­proach the bed like wrongly-con­victed in­no­cents go­ing to the gal­lows.

The events of their wed­ding night pro­vide the ful­crum of the story as it see­saws to and fro in time, ex­plain­ing how they fell in love and what hap­pens in later life.

At first, the film un­folds like a com­edy of 1962 manners, with a pair of snig­ger­ing room ser­vice wait­ers set­ting out melon with a cherry on top, and dis­as­trously over­cooked roast beef.

But grad­u­ally it be­comes some­thing much more poignant, and on the way it puts an en­tire, class-rid­den so­ci­ety un­der the mi­crobereft scope, I was re­minded a lit­tle of Joseph Losey’s 1971 film The Go-Be­tween, an­other care­ful lit­er­ary adap­ta­tion, which did the same for Ed­war­dian Eng­land.

All this is aided by some su­perla­tive act­ing. The two leads are won­der­ful, es­pe­cially Ro­nan, but there are also some cher­ish­able sup­port­ing per­for­mances, notably from Anne-Marie Duff as Billy’s artist mother, brain­dam­aged since be­ing clonked on the head by the open door of a mov­ing train.

There are a few small mis­steps. When we whirl for­ward to 2007, the cos­metic work to make Billy look 45 years older gives him the ap­pear­ance of a burns vic­tim. They could have used what they spent on make-up to hire an­other ac­tor al­to­gether. Never mind. It re­ally is a deeply af­fect­ing film but I ex­pect the queues for Dead­pool 2 will be longer.

WITH Avengers: Infinity War still oblit­er­at­ing vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing be­fore it at the box of­fice, the pro­duc­ers of Dead­pool 2 can be for­given a col­lec­tive gulp as their film goes head to head, su­per­hero v su­per­hero, with a gen­uine cin­e­matic be­he­moth.

That the two films are cousins, both in­spired by Marvel Comics char­ac­ters, counts for noth­ing.

But they are also dif­fer­ent beasts, and that’s where the se­quel to 2016’s huge hit Dead­pool might score with au­di­ences.

It de­servedly car­ries a 16 cer­tifi­cate for ‘strong bloody vi­o­lence, sex ref­er­ences and very strong lan­guage’. Avengers: Infinity War, which as the ti­tle sug­gests does not ex­actly stint on death and de­struc­tion it­self, is nev­er­the­less a 12A.

Dead­pool is even more rib­ald and sub­ver­sive than the first film, and pul­sates with sar­donic, self-aware wit from the open­ing shot. Even the sound­track plays along; as we see our tit­u­lar hero (Ryan Reynolds, who also gets a co-writ­ing credit) go­ing about his daily busi­ness, slaugh­ter­ing bad­dies and spray­ing drop-dead quips, as Dolly Par­ton belts out 9 To 5.

On the do­mes­tic front, all is well in Dead­pool’s world. De­spite his al­ter ego Wade Wil­son’s ter­ri­ble fa­cial scar­ring, he is adored by his gor­geous girl­friend Vanessa (Morena Bac­carin). They spend their evenings watch­ing Yentl and plan­ning a fam­ily.

But this is a flash­back. We have al­ready seen Dead­pool in de­spair, yearn­ing to die — which is no easy mat­ter given that his su­per­power is self-re­gen­er­a­tive heal­ing. What has gone so badly wrong? Very deftly, Reynolds finds a way of weaving his char­ac­ter’s sharp sense of hu­mour with the sui­ci­dal de­pres­sion that lasts for most of the movie. Once he’s lost Vanessa (okay, I’ve given it away, but I’m sure you guessed) he is

of any kind of fam­ily. The one he was born into cer­tainly doesn’t count. ‘Fam­ily was al­ways an F-word to me,’ he muses. But af­ter he ad­ver­tises for his own X-Men-in­spired gang of su­per­heroes to tackle Cable, a su­per-sol­dier from the fu­ture splen­didly played by Josh Brolin, he fi­nally ac­quires a fam­ily of sorts. And what an eclec­tic lot they are, in­clud­ing Domino (Zazie Beetz), whose su­per­power, de­li­ciously, is sim­ply be­ing lucky. Rus­sell, who He even gains an odd lit­tle also a fel­low sur­ro­gate goes by called son, the mu­tant name Fire­fist and has a whole heap of sor­rows. He’s been abused at the ‘Es­sex House for Mu­tant Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion’ and worse still, Cable is in­tent on killing him.

Den­ni­son, RUS­SELL, is played in­ci­den­tally, the by chubby Ju­lian Kiwi boy who got his ibig break in quirky 2016 com­edy Taika Hunt Waititi’s For The Wilder­peo­ple. ‘Have you ever seen a plus-size su­per­hero?’ he laments here. ‘The in­dus­try dis­crim­i­nates.’ In an­other in­spired cast­ing choice, US comic Rob De­laney, a TV reg­u­lar, also pops up as one of the team, a guy called Peter who doesn’t have a su­per­power but an­swered the ad­vert any­way. On the way to bat­tle he slaps on sun­cream. ‘I don’t know much about this Cable fella, but I guar­an­tee he hasn’t killed as many peo­ple as melanoma has,’ he mut­ters. The one-lin­ers fly from lots of dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions, but mainly from Dead­pool him­self, who re­peat­edly puts his fist through the so-called fourth wall di­vid­ing the movie from its au­di­ence, al­lud­ing to the first film’s box­of­fice tak­ings, ex­press­ing the hope that the Academy might be watch­ing dur­ing a par­tic­u­larly emo­tional scene, and even sign­ing an au­to­graph as Ryan Reynolds.

All this, plus nu­mer­ous pop­cul­tural al­lu­sions (Bey­once, Justin Bieber, Frozen, Ba­sic In­stinct, the Bourne films, MatthewMcConaughey and Sab­rina The Teenage Witch all get namechecks), could, in less able hands, be­come tire­some.

But like the wit, the high­oc­tane ac­tion, skil­fully chore­ographed by di­rec­tor David Leitch, a for­mer stunt co­or­di­na­tor, rarely re­lents.

Be­sides, Reynolds has the slick charm to pull it off, per­haps most wickedly of all when he mocks an­other movie fran­chise al­to­gether.

‘You’re so dark,’ he tells Cable, ‘are you sure you’re not from the DC Uni­verse?’

Poignant: Billy Howle and Saoirse Ro­nan in On Ch­e­sil Beach

Quirky: Ryan Reynolds as our hero in Dead­pool 2 (above) with Josh Brolin (in­set) as Cable.

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