Wednesday, 8 June 2011


Brighton Rock [Review]

Opinion: B-

Feeling quite a bit of tense moments from this film, largely in credits to Sam Riley's portrayal of a rising mobster with (saturated) tenacious menace, Brighton Rock benefits from good acts and cinematography that value add towards the contemporary remake of the 1947 same-titled film noir classic, despite considered by most to be a lacklustre effort under comparison to the original.

Adapted from Graham Greene's brilliant 1939 novel, BRIGHTON ROCK charts the headlong fall of Pinkie, a razor-wielding disadvantaged teenager. Screenwriter Rowan Joffe's debut feature BRIGHTON ROCK embraces the classic elements of film noir and the British gangster film to tell the story of Pinkie, a desperate youth who is hell bent on clawing his way up through the ranks of organized crime.

When a young and very innocent waitress, Rose, stumbles on evidence linking him to a revenge killing, he sets out to seduce her to secure her silence. The film stars up-and-coming British actors Sam Riley (Control, On the Road) and Andrea Riseborough (who has 3 films at this year's Toronto Film Festival, BRIGHTON ROCK, MADE IN DAGENHAM and NEVER LET ME GO) as the young couple. Helen Mirren and John Hurt co-star as two friends who set out to save Rose from Pinkie's deviant designs.

Hoodlums half a century back perform their dirty business with a sharp razor in England, a very prominent trait that you cannot miss with almost all of them wielding one. There's this thing about blades and knives, they're a symbol of raw strength and authority as compared to firearms. Obviously, it's much more efficient to deliver an effortless projectile to your enemy than a vicious slash.

Personally, blades are more frightening, so some anxiety came from there.

Weapons aside, what makes a man feared in authority has to be the man himself. Pinkie Brown is one such young lad who has the tough front to see through his ambition for power. Almost fearless towards the later half of the film, he nevertheless starts off with inexperienced hesitation in his razor-wielding hand from the beginning.

It was a good beginning, but a rush to a blatant much-feared transition of Pinkie followed after.

Right after he claimed a life with a rock, it became too immediate a change within him. There was so much negative vibes exuded, even in the presence of the gullible lady whom he needs to convince desperately to cover up the murder, that it becomes somewhat questionable as to how Rose didn't even manage to detect that. This brands Pinkie a straight nemesis in the eyes of the audience right from the start, without even allowing his character to appeal for certain understanding.

Everybody would shun from Pinkie just merely by his wicked demeanour.

So we all need to understand more about Rose, but unfortunately there wasn't much on that. The script denies her screen opportunity, but it doesn't hide her credible performance in this film. Her depiction of a mousey Rose works for me and proves that Andrea Riseborough is capable of maximising the potentials of her allocated role.

Casting aside all the melodrama and menace, there's technical visual qualities noticed in the form of some good photography for Brighton Rock. However, it may be considered to be a little inappropriately optimistic for a brooding crime thriller.

For the record, I went into a screening of Brighton Rock without neither having seen the 1947 original or the 1939 novel. I am not in the position to compare them but I believe this new take by Joeffe (screenwriter of The American) is a stepping stone to his future original directorial works where there won't be any predecessor to contrast against. It should be (unsurprisingly) considered inferior by those who've seen the original.

Despite so, I think it's a good effort by Joeffe (it's his first feature) and should be acceptable for those who've not seen the original.


  1. Haven't seen this one also never watched the original. Your review made it looks quite interesting.

  2. Hey Jaccstev, if I'm not wrong it will be screening in Singapore next month. You can give it a try if you like, thanks so much for dropping by!

    Let's look forward to Super 8 this week! :D


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