11 December 2016 | AlsExGal
After 16 years I just recently saw this...
... and I thought it was a pretty good film. When it first came out it was DiCaprio's presence that caused me not to watch it, and after watching him grow as an actor over the last 15 years, DiCaprio is what got me curious enough to give it a try.
DiCaprio plays Richard, a tourist who hates the tourist traps he can afford in Thailand. A guy in Richard's hotel named Daffy -for appropriate reasons - kills himself, but first draws a map to an island that he claims is nirvana. Richard convinces two French tourists to come with him and they actually do find a colony of people living outside of any civilization other than the one they have built for their own survival and pleasure. The leader is Sal (Tilda Swinton) who tells the three that the drug dealers who control the island allow them to stay there but have said there can be no more people joining them - it hurts their chances at having their thriving cannabis business remain undiscovered. Sal says that they can stay, but is bothered by the map, burns it, and asks if they gave a copy to anyone else. Richard lies and says no - he gave it to a group of stoners he met before they got there. Whether they are on their way there or are too drug addled to make the trip, Richard does not know. So he figures the lie will hurt nobody.
This is basically an adult "Lord of the Flies". The lesson it teaches is that no matter where you go, unfortunately your human nature and all that comes with it hitches a ride. That is why Richard could easily see the evils of the city but it took some time for problems to arise at "the beach". It's just a matter of more humans in one place than another.
And who would figure on a story in which armed drug dealers actually turn out to be the good guys, probably because they know the truth about human nature better than their nirvana seeking neighbors. To see what I mean, watch and find out.