Richard (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a young American backpacking in Thailand in search of an adventure that might free him from the normalities of his existence - to find something else, whatever that is. In his cheap Bangkok hotel, he meets Daffy (Robert Carlyle) who tells him about the world\'s perfect beach on a remote, hidden island paradise. Richard invites fellow travellers Françoise (Virginie Ledoyen) and Etienne (Guillaume Canet) to join him on the questionable quest. On reaching their destination, they find a giant field of marijuana - heavily guarded. They push on and are welcomed into a community living in secret on the island, headed by Sal (Tilda Swinton). But living in paradise is not all it seems"¦

The first hour of the film is good; the second hour goes precipitously downhill.

While holidaying in Thailand, Richard, (Leonardo Di Caprio), hears about a mysterious, legendary beach - a kind of paradise - from suicidal neighbour Daffy, (Robert Carlyle) . Determined to find the place, he teams up with a French couple and, after a hazardous journey, arrives to find the beach is the headquarters for a kind of commune run by Sal, (Tilda Swinton)...

Director Danny Boyle and writer John Hodge, who did such a great job adapting 'Trainspotting' to the screen, have fumbled with this version of Alex Garland's novel. Making Richard an American is OK, I suppose, but giving him two sexual relationships is a bit much. There were none in the book for Australian audiences, the beach itself doesn't look all that much better than the beaches we have at home. The first hour of the film is good, with a lovely performance from Virginie Ledoyen as the French girl Richard lusts after; the second hour goes precipitously downhill.

Margaret's Comments:
The combination of Trainspotting's Danny Boyle and Hollywood hearttrob Leonardo DiCaprio in Alex Garland's novel The Beach is actually quite mesmerising. DiCaprio is excellent in his role of a young man on a quest for something meaningful who comes up against the ultimate primitive in himself and in others. With all the hoo-ha about Titanic we've almost forgotten that DiCaprio first came to our attention as a very gifted young performer. The Beach is very well directed, creating an evocative, alluring environment in which this self-discovering drama takes place. There is a point in the narrative which seems to skip a few synapses, but as a piece of cinema it is lush and arresting and ultimately aims at some sort of self-knowledge. So few films aim that high.