'Brighton Rock' (dir: Rowan Joffe, 2010/2011), Cert: 15
As a current resident of Brighton, I am fully aware of the passion Brightonians have for ‘Brighton Rock’; both Graham Greene’s classic novel and the Boulting Brothers 1947 film adaptation starring Richard Attenborough, so I wasn’t surprised to hear many people up in arms about the remake, and the fact that it’s time frame had been changed from the 40s to the 60s. As a fan of both the original movie and novel, I was more intrigued about the update than annoyed. It stars the brilliant Sam Riley and Helen Mirren, plus Andrea Riseborough, Andy Serkis, Phil Davis and John Hurt so the cast is incredibly strong, but is that enough to sell the movie to the more sceptical viewer?
‘Brighton Rock’ follows the antics of teenage gangster Pinkie Brown (Riley); a razor-wielding maniac who becomes involved in a vicious act of murder. Before the act takes place, a seaside snap is taken which, if it falls into the wrong hands, could be devastating evidence. The person with access to the photograph is Rose (Riseborough); a shy and classic young woman who works in a cafe. Pinkie sets out to befriend Rose and gain the ticket to that vital evidence. Rose falls madly in love with Pinkie and he has her eating from the palm of his hand. Rose’s boss Ida (Mirren) suspects foul-play and sets off on her own personal mission to uncover the truth behind this terrible crime.
The story is identical to the original text apart from it now being set in the 60s, which adds a new dimension of political and sociological identity and culture to the tale. The 60s was the era of the ‘baby boomers’, teenagers, and of course ‘Mods and Rockers’ who appear heavily in this film. Some parts actually feel like they were ripped from ‘Quadrophenia’ (1979) but this isn’t a complaint. All of this works well and binds together nicely, plus it allows new viewers who are unfamiliar with the previous entries to benefit, however, somewhere along the way, the story seems to get slightly forgotten. For what it’s worth, this is a good film with great performances (apart from Andy Serkis, but I’ll get to that) and stunning cinematography, but too often it feels baggy and lacking pace. At 111 minutes, it seems a lot longer than it should.
However, Andy Serkis’ brief performance as Italian-British gangster Mr. Colleoni is excruciatingly bad. It’s utterly cringe-worthy and his costumes look like something Del Boy or Prince would wear. I found myself sinking in my seat due to embarrassment when he was on-screen, and considering he’s a vital part of the story, and supposedly scary, it was a huge distraction.