Tuesday, April 26, 2011



brighton-rock-movie-poster-2010-1020685428 The original 1947 Brighton Rock was famous for catapulting a young Richard Attenborough to world fame.  Playing a young gangster protecting his turf, images of his youthful visage have lasted decades.  Whether this remake will do the same for star Sam Riley remains to be seen.  It seems he may have an uphill battle in an uneven adaptation of Graham Greene’s still stirring book.

Steeped in the echoes of a bygone era, Brighton in the early 60’s seems a municipal paradise.  Ambitious gangster Pinkie Brown (Sam Riley) puts paid to this notion when he determines to stop rival gangs taking over his patch.  After killing one of them, evidence that could implicate him falls into the hands of waitress Rose (Andrea Riseborough).  Charming her with his words, his shady ways catch the attention of her employer Ida (Helen Mirren).  Caught in a quagmire of mistrust, Pinkie tries any method to prevent death from knocking at his door.

Brighton Rock is a great source novel that has been poorly adapted for screen.  Whilst the Attenborough original is regarded as a classic, this remake botches nearly every dramatic cue.  The tale of a gangster desperate to trust anyone is quite interesting but in the hands of screenwriter/director Rowan Joffe, the lack of clear character motivation drags the storyline into a confusing muddle.  It needn’t have been like this as some elements work very well with some stunning cinematography making Brighton and its surrounds characters in themselves.

Not helping is the acting which is uniformly awful.  Riley and Riseborough are extremely wooden and fail to convincingly convey the differing emotions tearing them apart.  One has to have empathy for their characters and this never materialises.  Only Mirren emerges relatively unscathed with a clearly defined role seemingly suited for another film altogether.  In many ways this remake states why certain stories shouldn’t be re-told, with the sinister mood of the piece only occasionally coming across.

A very disappointing film, Brighton Rock is a grab-bag of incidents failing to gel.  Brighton Rock is frustrating due to some poor direction and dire performances. Those wanting to find the definitive version of this tale should read the book to discover how good stories should be told.

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Movie Review Rating 5 / 10

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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