**½/**** Image A+ Sound A Extras B+
starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tilda Swinton, Virginie Ledoyen, Guillaume Canet
screenplay by John Hodge, based on the book by Alex Garland
directed by Danny Boyle
by Bill Chambers When we meet Richard, the U.S.-born narrator/hero of The Beach, he has succumbed to the idea that finding adventure necessitates getting the hell out of his homeland--drinking snake's blood and sleeping with roaches play pleasantly into his romantic notions of danger. And as he roams the steamy streets of Bangkok in search of the next hedonistic-masochistic delight, Richard appears cutely oblivious to the American infiltration of Asian culture ("The Simpsons" episodes on TV, the constant bubblegum music sounding from ghetto blasters, etc.). The Beach is about how we as earthlings can't escape Western civilization, and the futility of trying.