There may be a genuinely moving drama to be found in the story of the wedding night of two virgins that goes so catastrophically wrong that it ruins their marriage and haunts them for the rest of their lives. But this stilted, utterly implausible film—which manages the astonishing feat of being both histrionic and monotonous at the same time—is not it. The sexual revolution may be just over the horizon, in 1962 England, but it hasn’t hit yet, as Florence (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward (Billy Howle) are preparing for their first night together as husband and wife. As they conduct awkward, nervous conversation over a walk on the beach and dinner in their hotel room, we get flashbacks to how they met and courted. Ronan and Howle do their best with the spectacularly unsexy and—worse—unenthusiastic fumbling to come, but they have no chemistry together, and little to work with. Florence and Edward have inexplicably become wildly different people from the happy, in-love couple they had seemed to be. Ian McEwan adapted his own novel here, and what he offers as tragic is simply ridiculous.
Director: Dominic Cooke
Producer: Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley, Babak Eftekhari, Wayne Godfrey, Thorsten Schumacher, Andrew Mackie, Joe Oppenheimer, Zygi Kamasa and Beth Pattinson
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle, Emily Watson, Samuel West, Anne-Marie Duff, Bebe Cave, Adrian Scarborough, Jonjo O'Neill, Philip Labey and Oliver Johnstone