I am baffled by all the negative reviews here. I thought Everyone did a brilliant job of acting. This is not a face-paced Hollywood Superhero movie. It is slowly & beautifully filmed--in the English countryside, city and On Chesil Beach.
The musical score veers between classical (a lot of Mozart) which is Florence's realm & blues/jazz, which is Edward's world. Lovely scenes of Florence with her string quartet/trio (she is the obvious leader). Hep scene in a Beatnik night club with Edward going wild.
Billy Howle as Edward, Saoirse Ronan as Florence, Emily Watson as Florence's mother, Bebe Cave as Florence's sister, Samuel West as Florence's father---all do a Brilliant job of acting.
Anne Marie Duff is especially touching as Edward's mother. She possibly has manic depression (seen naked in the back garden, shouting at birds) She definitely later gets hit in the head in a horrific train accident & is "brain damaged." Despite this, she continues to paint beautifully. Adrian Scarborough is lovely as Edward's father. He is loving toward his wife and children. He urges Edward to "marry that woman" after Florence orchestrates a clean-up of the cluttered, dirty home which is that way because the mother is off on flights of fancy. (Wondering why the twins didn't pitch in & help clean up? Or Edward? Of course, in the times, cleaning was always "mother's job."
Florence & Edward meet while at university (she studying music, him getting a "first" in history). They have an Exuberant, joyful romance before marrying. I love these characters!!
Some of the negative comments are about the fact that Florence did not tell Edward of her dislike for sex before the wedding. I think these people are placing today's sexual freeness on people in the early 60s. Edward & Florence were raised in the 1950s. Very few people (aside from Beatniks) talked about sex back then. Very few women ever had sex before marriage (although there was a wild period during WWII where those morals went by the wayside--"Let's do it now, tomorrow may never arrive" was the idea.
There is a hint (not flagrant) that Florence has been sexual abused by her father. Just once? Or was it ongoing? If ongoing, why was she so shocked when reading the sex manual? It was as if she had no idea what happened between men & women. But she could have blocked the abuse out. Or maybe it was "just" touching (still horrible).
On their wedding night, Florence realises she does Not like sex at all. It disgusts her. (To be fair, I think Most woman have a similar reaction to first-time sex. It is messy. It is painful. In fact, F. Scott Fitzgerald himself hated the messiness of sex & he was the premier author during his coined "Jazz Age."
She suggests they live as man & wife but for Edward to go out & about with other women & leave her totally out of that. He is understandably Infuriated. They part, the marriage unconsummated.
Years later, Edward (who owns a small records shop & meets what seems to be Florence's daughter there) hears on the radio that Florence's musical group is playing its last concert so he goes, sits in the seat he told he'd sit in (back when they were young & so in love) when her quartet got famous. The make-up on Saorise is OK, making her a beautiful older woman. But the make-up on Edward is Horrible. It looks like clay just slapped on. They'd have done better finding an older man to play both roles. This is the Only negative about this movie, for me. And that final scene was a tear jerker!