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February 17, 2000     Beverly Hills Weekly
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February 17, 2000
 

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arts00 entertainm00ent "The Beach" Leaves Audience Lusting for DiCaprio. Was there truly a love affair off the screen? By Justin Levine When we last left Leonardo DiCaprio after Titanic, he was in some- thing of a dilemma: should he choose a fol- low-up film project that reaffirms his teen-heart- throb, mega-box office status? Or should he try and go for a true dramatic .... piece which would help him shake off his image and position himself ag a more "serious actor"? With his latest film The Beach, the producers try and split the difference. This is a film that MTV- teens would likely mistake for serious insightful drama while catching another glimpse of the old Leo they know and love. Irwn/e Ledoyen, fema/e co-star/n "The Beach" DiCaprio plays Richard, a loner who seeks adventure and self-fulfillment by traveling the world -- which parallels his character in Titanic. Only this time, he tries to play him a bit more alienated. Instead of the love struck bohemian on a sinking ship, Richard is a more somber, backpacking, rugged type in Thailand who drinks snake's blood for the sole reason that its a new experience that he couldn't get back home. Trouble starts when DiCaprio meets a crazed, ganja smoking gent from England (or similarly accented count) who tells him of an island with a hidden beach unlike anything he has ever seen as well as fields of great pot. Before you know it, the limey ends up dead -- but not before he manages to draw a map to the secret beach and posts it on DiCaprio's door. Before going to find the island, DiCaprio rounds up a French girl whom he has the hots for, and her current boyfriend who delays the inevitable love interest between the male star and female co-star. Rumors flooded Hollywood that DiCaprio and his co-star, Virginie Ledoyen had an affair, and that she was carrying his child. Upon this furore, Ledoyen told the press that "It's upsetting, but at the same time, if you start to think like that you become completely paranoid." In the reality of the film what they find is a secret commune living the good life on paradise until it comes time to deal with problems such as lack of dentists or hospitals. They inevitably have to make some tough choices between keeping their secret safe from flocking tourists, or risk discovery by treating the occasional shark bites. Then of course other problems arise such as relationship jealousies and drug lords who want to keep their pot fields a secret as well. There are homages (read "rip-offs") to Apocalypse Now, Jaws, The Deer Hunter, and Lord of the Flies throughout the film. You also get to see DiCaprio try and suck in his burgeoning gut when he does his topless scenes. Fun stuff. The two best things going for this film are actress Virginie Ledoyen who plays DiCaprio's love interest and is deservedly the next screen sex symbol, and cinematographer Darius Khondji whose images can elevate an otherwise bad film to mediocre (Alien Resurrection) or a good film to a great one (Seven). Put The Beach in the former category. Ri Come. Smoke. Read. Visit. Relax. elie's cigar 160 south beverl B EVE R L Y H 310-271-2284 room y drive I L L S People Assisting The Homeless PATH/Foundation House is a homeless empowerment agency, dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty and homelessness. Items Needed: Vacuum Cleaners Computers Blankets Silverware Canned Goods There are 120 homeless who need your help. 2346 Cotner Avenue (2 blks west of Sepulveda between Olympic & Pico) 8 a.m.-6p.m, weekdays Weekend dropoffs are okay too. 14 Beverly Hills Weekly