VOD film review: Brighton Rock (2010)
James R | On 21, Dec 2017
Director: Rowan Joffe
Cast: Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough, Phil Davis, Helen Mirren, John Hurt
Watch Brighton Rock online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Apple TV (iTunes) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
Everyone loves Brighton Rock. The 1947 one. But when we first saw John Boulting’s movie we all thought the same thing: if only someone would remake it and set it in the 60s. And if only that someone was the guy who wrote 28 Weeks Later.
Rowan Joffe at least has a respect for Graham Greene’s brilliant novel and his subsequent screenplay – even if he does get them wrong. Pinkie (Riley) is a sociopathic upstart gangster, determined to take over the titular town, pier and all. Innocent young Rose (Riseborough) witnesses his gang bumping off Fred Hale, so Pinkie puts on the charm (read: violence) to keep her mouth shut.
Pinning her down and demanding her devotion, Pinkie is repulsed by Rose’s doting naïvety, but depends on it to survive. He’s an interesting character to observe, and, fresh from his stellar turn in Control, Sam Riley is good, running around rasping like a chain smoker and staring menacingly through windows. As the conflicted Catholic, though, Andrea Riseborough is the best of the bunch. Timid and tragic, she’s too busy quivering to see the mess she’s in – the film, that is, not her marriage.
The rest of the acting is decent enough. Phil Davis does his trademark geezer act and Helen Mirren has a whale of a time playing the beefed-up role of feisty female cafe-owner Ida. And, just for good measure, Andy Serkis goes all Gollumfather for 10 minutes as slimy Brighton kingpin Colleoni.
So if the cast is alright, where does Brighton Rock go wrong? To put it politely, it’s all Rowan Joffe’s fault. Imbuing the whole tale with a downbeat, leaden pace, Joffe turns Greene’s noir thriller into something bloated and boring – an atmosphere that’s so ponderously dull even the sea moves in slow motion. Yes, there are pretty shots of piers, mods and blokes on scooters, but there’s no sense of subtlety to go with the period production. Instead, Joffe takes away any moral undertones and replaces them with big fat religious overtones, undermining Riseborough’s fragile presence. Then, he plays choral music on top of the subtle moments. By the time the overblown ending arrives, you’ll be putting pink sticks of rock in your ears to drown it out.
Brighton Rock is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.