Brighton Rock (Madman) DVD REVIEW

BASED ON A 70-year-old Graham Greene novel, and adapted from a 1947 movie, this new version of Brighton Rock was reimagined to have occurred in 1964, director Rowan Joffe’s bright idea to combine the nasty antics of a bunch of thugs with the milieu of rioting that came to pass when the seaside resort became a warzone between the mods and the rockers.
Dumb idea: the beautifully-restored scooters and the extras running around in the de rigeur uniforms of the two opposing youth cultures just get in the way of the actual story, without adding anything of consequence, and help to make this historic recreation look faked.
Despite that enormous error of judgment, there’s much to recommend Brighton Rock. Andrea Riseborough is brilliant as the appealingly ditzy teen waitress who falls for the abominable young criminal (played by Sam Riley), presumably because her achingly dull situation calls for a true love fantasy, regardless of consequences. Helen Mirren is also effortlessly great as the dining room manager who tries to save the girl from her fate.
There are excellent scenes and bravura touches in this “quality” English drama, but is hampered by focusing almost exclusively on Riley’s character, Pinkie Brown, who lacks even a shred of human decency. Had the film instead centred on Riseborough’s character, Rose, we would have felt the noose tighten as Pinkie engineered for her to fall in love with him just so he could make sure that – as the only witness to a murder he committed – she would never tell.
The conclusion, when it comes, is one of those “whatever” moments, and you end up wishing the film had been steered more decisively so that you actually felt something at its inevitable tragedy.
Some viewers will, of course, enjoy the fine performances, and they will also doubtless enjoy the disc of extras, including a ‘making of’, interviews with directors and cast, deleted scenes and several other mini-features. The film itself also has the near-obligatory director audio commentary. GARY STEEL
Film = 3 stars
Sound = 3.5 stars
Vision = 3.5 stars
Extras = 4 stars

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