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On Chesil Beach starring Saoirse Ronan as Florence: My take on the book #book2movies [trailer]

When she practiced her scales and arpeggios at home she wore a headband, an endearing touch that caused him to dream about the daughter they might have one day. Florence’s playing was sinuous and exact, and she was known for the richness of her tone. One tutor said he had never encountered a student who made an open string sing so warmly. When she was before the music stand in the rehearsal room in London, or in her room at her parent’s house in Oxford, with Edward sprawled on the bed, watching and desiring her, she held herself gracefully, with back straight and head lifted proudly, and read the music with a commanding, almost haughty expression that stirred him. That look had such certitude, such knowledge of the path to pleasure.”    
pg 18, On Chesil Beach

Now that I’ve finished Ian McEwan’s novel about two virginal newlyweds on their honeymoon, and Mr. McEwan has ripped my heart into shreds, I’m even more pleased On Chesil Beach is being developed for the screen. I haven’t seen The Hollow Crown so I know next to nothing about the director, Dominic Cooke. But Ian McEwan himself is writing the screenplay and Saoirse Ronan is attached as Florence. Perfection.

While Ronan may not look exactly like Florence, Ronan has the same inner vibe, the soul of an artist. Because first and foremost, that is who and what Florence is. A violinist, classical music is the air that she breathes, the blood that runs through her. As much she loves Edward, we can’t have Florence without that music. It’s key, I think, that Edward lies on her bed listening, while she works. He’s a fan, not of classical music, but of jazz and its improvisational nature, the very opposite of classical with its precision. There are no riffs in classical music. Everything is known, prescribed, exact. There’s comfort in that exactitude for Florence. No surprises. As gorgeous and moving as Mozart’s  is, there’s nothing frightening for her about it, no ugly surprises, she can read and annotate the music ahead of time. 

Not so with Edward, the awkward country boy history student who loves her. She isn’t all altogether sure of his needs and expectations for their marriage and in this world and time before sex was just another activity seen daily on TV, the very thought of it, with him, with anyone, held nothing but fear. Words like ‘penetration’ and ‘entering her’ filled her not with desire but disgust. But she loved him.
George Mackay/Portrait by Nicola Dove
And she loved Edward, not with the hot, moist passion she had read about, but warmly, deeply, sometimes like a daughter, sometimes almost maternally. She loved cuddling him, and having his enormous arm around her shoulders, and being kissed by him, though she disliked his tongue in her mouth and had wordlessly made this clear. She thought he was original, unlike anyone she had ever met. He always had a paperback book, usually history, in his jacket pocket in case he found himself in a queue or a waiting room. He marked what he read with a pencil stub He was virtually the only man Florence had met who did not smoke. None of his socks matched. He had only one tie, narrow, knitted, dark blue, which he wore with a white shirt. She adored his curious mind, his mild country accent, the huge strength in his hands, the unpredictable swerves of his conversation, his kindness to her, and the way his soft brown eyes, resting on her when she spoke, made her feel enveloped in a friendly cloud of love. At the age of twenty-two, she had no doubt she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Edward Mayhew.
 p 12, On Chesil Beach

Who to Cast as Edward?

George Mackay (left & above) is the right age, and has that smart, thoughtful, almost but not quite confident air the part of Edward requires. As McEwan says—he is polite to a fault. He was BAFTA’s rising star in 2014 and it doesn’t hurt that he was Saoirse Ronan’s costar in How I Live Now. I wonder if she’ll recommend him to the director, to my mind he’s perfect. The pair had enormous chemistry together which you can see in the trailer at the end of this post, the kind of chemistry that Florence & Edward need early in their relationship. Mackay can currently be seen on 11.22.63 on Hulu.

Jeremy Irons was the love interest opposite Dakota Fanning as a teenager in Now is Good, then Stephen Spielberg snapped him up for War Horse. He played a young Colin Firth in The Railway Man and at 25, just wrapped The Billionaire Boys Club. He may be a bit too polished to carry off that  once-a-country-boy look that Florence says she loves about Edward.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster is actually 26 but has such a baby face he can pass for 16, let alone Edward at 22 or 23. Plus we don’t just love him from Game of Thrones or The Blade Runner, we’ll love him forever as Sam in Love Actually.That has to count for something.

We go way back with Freddie Highmore too. Fell in love with him in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, August Rush & Finding Neverland. Ive never seen him in The Bates Motel but hes got the right sort of attractive, sort of awkward look I see for Ed-ward. Freddie just turned 24.
Aneurin Barnard is a little old at 26, maybe too good-looking? Did you see him in  War & Peace? What do you think?

Who would you add? Who would you take away? Saoirse Ronan as a Best Actress nominee will most certainly play a big part in casting Edward. In addition to a chemistry test, theyll want to hear her suggestions. Who would you suggest if you were her? I confess to being partial to George. 

I’ve had a couple of suggestions from friends on twitter: 

And from my friend Teresa who rejected Fox outright —and who is not so secretly pitching for Domhnall Gleeson ...
So how about Nicholas Hoult?

Updated 2/22/2018: We’ve finally got the first trailer and of course, we now know that Billy Howle is Edward.