As with Jade’s review of ‘Up In The Air’, I can’t claim that I am in anyway a reviewer to be taken seriously. I just want to give my opinion and recommend, to either seek out or avoid, the films we have been watching.
So today we watched Rowan Joffe’s recent adaptation of ‘Brighton Rock’, starring Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough, Helen Mirren and, a favourite of mine, Andy Serkis. To be honest the only reason we happened to watch it is because we found it on the BBC iPlayer. Jade had seen it before, during the 2010 BFI London Film Festival the night before the film she appears in, ‘Assessment’, was shown at the event, and she thought I should give it a watch. I haven’t read the original source material, Graham Greene’s 1938 novel, nor have I seen the the 1947 film adaptation, in which a 24-year-old Richard Attenborough leads the cast, so I was sat in front of this film completely new to the story or the concept, although I had read that this film had moved the story into the Mod vs. Rockers era in the 1960s.
Unfortunately, despite the stunning cinematography, courtesy of John Mathieson (who Jade knows from her time working with him on Atonement), and great performances throughout, particularly from Helen Mirren and Andy Serkis, I just can’t decide whether I like the film or not. There is so much to like about it and the third act definitely delivers but the film as a whole just feels lukewarm.
The visuals on display, for which the DoP and Production Designer, James Merifield, cannot be praised enough, are beautiful. In particular, there is a single take which follows two of the main characters on a moped, driving along the sea front. The conversation between them ends and the camera and bike move in unison to reveal dozens of Mods on scooters behind them.
It may be the case that my dislike of this film comes from the main aspect of the story which is the relationship between Pinky and Rose, played by Riley and Riseborough respectively. It is this thread that the entire film is built upon but I just really don’t believe this relationship would exist. Rose’s character is undoubtedly naive and innocent by design but even with this in mind I just don’t understand what she sees that creates such a strong attachment to him. There are also these bizarre moments of outburst from both characters which make no sense to me. Although I haven’t read the book, I imagine they make more sense in the context which the novel has time to explain where a film doesn’t – the age old problem with book to film adaptations. I intend to read the novel to find out, as well as it being an incredibly popular and acclaimed book.
Overall, I’d say that ‘Brighton Rock’ impressed me and disappointed me at the same time. The film sports some fine acting, Andrea Riseborough looks like a big star on the way up, and some beautiful imagery but the film wasn’t one I’d want to watch again. However, I’d say it is a film that is worth a watch. I’m not recommending it as a great film, or even expecting that you’ll like it, but I think it offers enough to make it a good, and at times inspiring, use of a couple of hours.