Why I'm Excited for 'The Beach' TV Reboot

Earlier this week, filmmaker Danny Boyle shared with The Independent that a prequel for The Beach is being made into a TV show. The film, which hit theaters in early 2000, was an adaptation of an Alex Garland novel from 1996. Boyle told the paper that Amy Seimetz, the actor-writer-director, is in charge of the project and that while it's a prequel, it's being set in the modern day. "It's intriguing when you see it. I've read the first two scripts," he said. "It's the same character but it's set now, so 20 years later—it's a bit of a headfuck."

Which seems on-brand because, honestly, the film was something of a headfuck—in the best possible way. For those of you who need a refresher, here it is: Leonardo DiCaprio plays Richard, a proto-millennial American in Thailand, searching for adventure and off-the-beaten-path experiences. When he crosses paths with a suicidal fellow traveler, he receives a hand-drawn map to a secret, forbidden paradise. He joins up with a French couple and the three make their way to the secluded beach sequestered on an island filled with a hierarchical community of fellow travelers (led by Tilda Swinton) determined to never go back to "the real world."

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach

Perhaps it was the wanderlust of a teenager who hadn't done any real traveling on his own yet, but when this film came out, it really spoke to me. Or maybe it was regular lust for a tanned, toned Leo DiCaprio breaking away from his peak post-Titanic image. Either way, I liked it. And while it didn't do gangbusters at the box office, it has slowly garnered cult status. Perhaps because you can feel the seismic shift occurring between the late '90s and early aughts. Or maybe it had something to do with the well-curated soundtrack. Featuring tracks from Moby, All Saints, Leftfield, Blur and Orbital, it was a sonic time-capsule of the era.

Look, I'm no high-minded film critic. Plenty of the spy movies or rom-coms that downright delight me don't exactly hold high scores on Rotten Tomatoes. The Beach, in case you're wondering, clocks in at 20%. The consensus being that the film is "unfocused and muddled ... points go to the gorgeous cinematography, though." I couldn't agree more.

To enjoy The Beach is to sit back and enjoy the ride. You examine the night sky through Richard's telescope and think what it'd be like to jump down a massive waterfall. The film takes us through the chaotic streets of Bangkok to the languid days on an isolated beach. A beach so desirable that a crush of tourists to the filming location caused environmental damage to the bay, forcing Thai authorities to close it to the public until 2021.

Of course, the ride takes a very dark turn. Boyle's characteristically maximalist style (honed on such films as Trainspotting) gets thoroughly applied when shit gets wild and people start dying. The director makes some interesting choices, such as interpreting Richard's delusions as a video game, complete with 32-bit graphics and scores.

Read the Source Material

The Beach by Alex Garland

The Beach,
by Alex Garland
($13.58 at Amazon)

This prequel, I assume, will focus on how the beach community came to be and their initial run-ins with the marijuana farmers on the island, which ultimately disbanded the group at the end of the film. But the stories of how the travelers came to the island could make for an interesting show. Each person's individual journey would explain what led them to give up on society and live off the grid. A modern-day telling of this will be even more impactful in the age of social media. Sure, Leo won't be there. But I'll surely be watching anyway.

Read the
Source Material

The Beach by Alex Garland

The Beach, by Alex Garland
($13.58 at Amazon)


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