BASED ON THE BOOK BY:
To Buy and Rent
Ross Hughes HCF Critic
The year is 1964. The place is Brighton. A once quiet seaside town is suddenly overrun by gangs of sharp suited Mods and greasy Rockers looking for a riot. Amongst the chaos lurks top Mod and gangster Pinkie Brown (Sam Riley) Ruthless, ambitious and horrifically violent, Pinkie will stop at nothing in his brutal quest to make a name for himself within the criminal underworld. But when a cold bloodied killing links him to a waitress named Rose (Andrea Riseborough) , he uses seduction to secure her silence. Can Rose be saved in time from Pinkie, or will he drag her further into a world of death and damnation?
Ok let me be honest with all the readers of HCF! I have never seen the original Brighton Rock, a film that has been labelled one of the classic British films of all time, a movie that from what I have been told has a quite wonderful performance by Richard Attenborough. Its a shameful thing to admit and I can hear the gasps of disbelief from over the sunny mountain hill of the Valleys from where I am sitting, but I am going to seek it out straight away, and its all thanks to this recent re-make or a new “adaption” considering both films take the 1938 novel by Graham Greene has their inspiration. The reason why I have the urge to watch the 1947 film is because this 2010 movie had enough to keep me watching till the very end but it seemed to lack many things to make it special, maybe that extra bite that the earlier film has in spades.
This new generation looks and sounds wonderful. Set in the rocking Sixties, the film is gorgeous, (achieved with vintage lenses- email me to tell me this way) and a booming soundtrack that rips through the surround sound. Its very dramatic and from the off you know that what you watching here is very serious and not some kind of Rock and Chips spin off cousin. There are no jokes on offer here which starts with a stabbing that leads to upcoming gangster Pinkie needing to start a friendship with a local waitress to gain a photograph that might lead to problems from the local police. His liaison with Rose becomes more than just a play for the mob, a relationship develops that becomes not just dangerous for them both, but also to the film itself, because once they meet and become serious, the film turns on its head.
Brighton Rock leads with a quality supporting cast of cream of the crop Brits (Helen Mirren, John Hurt and Andy Serkis), that it really is hard to dismiss the class on show and its while its his feature debut, Rowan Joffe (the son of Killing Fields director Roland) shows some great style and vision with one great scene that has Pinkie talking one minute to Rose and then holding a gun in the next. It really is a spilt second shot that suggests a promising future for this young man and one that HCF will be keeping their eye on.
The trouble I found with the whole show is that it starts in a quite frantic fashion, a real ugly side to this seaside town which suggests that what we are seeing is the birth of a new gangster, such is the tour de force of Sam Riley performance in the first half that its just riveting to watch. But once we get past the 45 minute mark, the film turns from a high class gangster film to being nothing more than a melodramatic drama about two lovebirds who may or may not be right for each other. Its this sudden change of pace that made the film lose its aspect of what it was trying to be. The plot turning from Pinkie’s rise to king of the town, to becoming a husband who may have guilt because he is unsure if he actually loves his wife or not!
To say the film runs out of steam is really an understatement and we are left with players like Hurt and Serkis totally underused, to be honest looking back I can not even remember who Hurt played or way he was even in this movie. The most confusing aspect is Rose even though the performance by Riseborough has won massive critical acclaim, I for one could not see why. I just felt the entire character had no direction and purpose. I mean she was in love with this guy for reasons I just could not understand, he offered her nothing, he did not seduce her or lavish her with love, in fact he was a complete arse, so this undying love that leads to the supposed cliff-hanging conclusion just did not wash with me at all. For this film to work, we need to believe that she loves this man, but we see nothing to suggest why! The film should have spent more time developing this love arc instead of wasting time in seeing what I thought was the rise of Pinkie, from street runner to king the mob!
So there you have the problem. Its a film that has two halves, one in the vein of Scarface, the other a case of Romero and Juliet, and both do not work. It really is a sense of frustrating when the credits roll, a frustrating that may be solved by me watching what must be the superior original…..what is the email address for Amazon again??