Cast: Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough, Helen Mirren, John Hurt
Amongst the quaint sea-front pubs and idyllic cafes, Brighton Rock is a brutal tale of British gangster violence. An adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel, Brighton Rock follows the story of Pinkie (Riley) as he seduces a naïve waitress, when he learns she has evidence of the vicious murder he committed. Much in the same way that the surrounding tourists of Brighton are won over by it’s outward charm, Pinkie tricks her and it cumulates with a superficial marriage.
Joffe has chosen to update the story a couple of decades, bringing it to 1964 - era of Mods and Rockers and the last year of the death penalty. Lovers of the novel may gasp in dismay at this adaption, but mixing iconic 60’s imagery with the darkness of the story seems to work.
Like the book, there is violence, and a lot of it, with brutal beating scenes, involving everything from acid to rocks. Whilst it’s undoubtedly menacing, it still falls a little flat. As expected, there are meaty performances from old hands of British cinema, Helen Mirren, and John Hurt. But it’s up and comer Andrea Riseborough who steals the show in her first major role as timid waitress Rose. A disappointment, surprisingly, is Sam Riley, who at 30 is unconvincing as the teenager he is meant to be playing. He has perfected Pinkie’s scowl, and is so unashamedly cruel, but it all seems too reminiscent of his role in Control.
It was Rowan Joffe’s first attempt at a feature film, and it’s a little obvious – apart from a few moments of cinematic beauty, a swooping shot of Pinkie and Rose on the cliff edge and gorgeous shots of 1960’s Brighton. It is clear that he has still not got to grips with directing actors.
Although it feels like it's just missed the mark, we still think it’s worth a watch, if only for Andrea Riseborough's star turn.
An enjoyable but pretty standard film.
Words: Megan Dobson
Picture: Courtesy of Optimum Releasing