Carlyle is nicely depraved for his limited time on screen, and Tilda Swinton (Orlando) also deserves notice for playing the twisted yin to his yang, as Sal, the covertly tyrannical, self-appointed leader of the island's colony. Virginie Ledoyen is lovely and clever, but, like much of the movie, her character and motivations are underdrawn. As for Guillaume Canet, his task as the jilted boyfriend is hardly enviable or particularly believable. The best work comes from the colony as a whole, mildewy Benetton models who perfectly represent the spooky ironies of eternal holiday-making. While there's something inherently vulgar about a skanky white guy with a dirty guitar crooning Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," the montage of everyone desperately ordering provisions from the mainland (aspirin, tampons, Paracetamol, beef curry) is a chunk of art in itself.
The Beach is a pretty cool movie in execution, with gorgeous photography (do more erotic scenes, Danny!), and whatever ecological crises ensued during its production do not appear on the screen. One could make a case that the characters' golly-gee wonder over a bit of white sand and blue water makes the reaction shots of Jurassic Park seem restrained. One could also posit that there's something genuinely psychotic about a young American man who can dismiss violent death as casually as Richard does. But this movie is about generating the illusion of depth for the multiplex, a slice of Sociology 101 set to a rave beat in the tropics. Aldous Huxley would have yawned, but most audiences will probably groove to it.