Brighton Rock (2010)

Brighton Rock is Rowan Joffe‘s adaptation of Grahame Greene‘s novel, starring Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough, Helen Mirren, John Hurt and Andy Serkis.

In Brighton’s 1960s underworld, two gangs clash together. In one of them, the young Pinkie (Sam Riley) quickly rises to power through a mixture of ruthlessness and psychopathy. When the waitress Rose (Andrea Riseborough) becomes a witness to one of his crimes, Pinkie decides that wooing her would be the best way to go. But there’s also Ida (Helen Mirren), the owner of the café  Rose works at, who sees the danger for Rose and relentlessly tries to save her from Pinkie.

This movie has a lot of potential which it mostly just squanders. There are some beautiful shots, especially of Brighton itself, but I just wanted to hit most of the characters most of the time (and some all of the time). At least there’s Helen Mirren..

I mostly blame Sam Riley for the failure of this film. It’s not that he’s a bad actor, he just doesn’t have the charisma to pull this role off. There’s no sexy-but-dangerous vibe coming off him, there’s only a psychotic vibe. That makes it utterly inexplicable that Rose would fall for him so quickly and so blindly which in turn makes Rose a character that you just wanted to shake and slap around a little bit in the hope that you could knock some sense into her. [I seriously started to fantasize during the film what it would be like if Helen Mirren turned into Chuck Norris and started to roundhouse-kick everyone who came close to her, except maybe John Hurt. I think it would have made for a better film and that really is a sorry state of affairs when substituting anyone, let alone Helen Mirren, with Chuck Norris becomes an improvement.]

If Sam Riley was as hot in this film as Marlon Brando was in A Streetcar Named Desire, maybe this would have worked. Maybe one could have at least understood Rose a little better. I don’t want to blame the abused for staying with the abuser, but why she actually got with him in the first place and didn’t run screaming from his obviously psychotic menacing behavior, I will never understand.

Helen Mirren was great. John Hurt was great. Andy Serkis was great. All of them were featured too little and the best scenes are the ones were the three of them interact. There the movie becomes really good.

The story itself – apart from the ending, where I again, wanted to slap Rose – was interesting and I think that I would like to read the book some time.

And the cinematography was wonderful: the movie looked really good.

Summarising: Could have been so much better, but just didn’t work.

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