Sunday, May 15, 2011

Life's a Beach

Love him or hate him, you've got to admit that it's fun to watch Leonardo DiCaprio go nuts in The Beach.

DiCaprio plays a somewhat pompous backpacker, travelling around SE Asia on his own, looking for kicks - like drinking cobra's blood in Bangkok. He meets a drunk raving Scottish lout, who tells him about an isolated beach on a deserted island, where food and dope grow on trees. Next morning, the lout has killed himself and bequeathed to DiCaprio a map.

He convinces a French couple to join him in quest of the island, mainly to wolf on the French girl (Virginie Ledoyen). When they get there, they find heavily armed pot farmers on one end, and the Beach on the other. The Beach is a commune-resort dedicated to international hedonism, run by Tilda Swanson. It's all very hippie-tribal, but you don't need to have seen Lord of the Flies to guess at the fascism laying beneath the surface, like a shark. The horror, the horror!

Actually, I would compare this movie more to The Valley, Obscured by Clouds. We get the same rich, privileged Europeans looking for self-fulfillment in a strange land, and the inevitable (?) descent into madness and starvation. But that movie has Bulle Ogier and a Pink Floyd soundtrack.

I've spent a little time on the backpacker trail, hanging in hostels and losmen across Java and Bali, and that part looked pretty realistic to me. Of course, no body went insane or got killed, at least when I was around. I probably just needed to keep at it a little longer.

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