Brighton Rock

By James Burbidge

Country: UK
Running time:
Directed by:
Rowan Joffe
Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough, Helen Mirren, John Hurt

Brighton Rock

I’ll come clean straight away: I have neither read the book, nor seen the original Brighton Rock, starring Richard Attenborough. Nor have I seen the martial arts version, Brighton Wok. This, Rowan Joffe assures us, won’t be a problem: his film (which he both writes and directs) is not a remake, but a new version based on the original book. It’s rather good.

Pinkie is a young criminal who seizes his chance to take control of the gang he belongs to. His plans are complicated however, when an innocent young waitress becomes a witness to the murder he commits. Seducing her, first to find out how much she knows, then to ensure she stays quiet, Pinkie struggles to understand his feelings to Rose.  

Much has been made of the 60s setting and the Mod/Rocker riots that feature in the film, but it is testament to Greene’s story and Joffe’s choices that these never dominate, forming only a background to what emerges as an intense character study. Mention must go to the outstanding cast put together for the film, including a disturbingly louche Andy Serkis. Helen Mirren and John Hurt bring all the glamour and gravity expected, and are perfect foils to their young colleagues. Riseborough’s Rose is doe-eyed and gentle, almost pallid in her complexion. As the story progresses however she becomes stronger, fierce in her defence of Pinkie and their life together. As touted, these two are definitely a pair of British talent to watch. Played with a cold-eyed dangerous stillness by Sam Riley, Pinkie is a villain whom we can never understand. Is he ambitious, sadistic, frightened, angry? Probably all of those things, but none of them quite get to the core of him. Is he ever really in love with Rose? She seems sure he is, and there is a sense that she is the only one who understands him. Perhaps she’s right, but it is a twisted and dark love, that leads to a twisted and dark conclusion.

Brighton Rock

Brighton Rock is not a happy film, nor is it one that goes where you expect it to. But it is a film you should make an effort to see. Impeccably cast, beautifully shot and lovingly directed, this is a refreshingly cold wind to blow away the cobwebs of a typical British gangster film.

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About The Author

James Burbidge James performs a plethora of tasks for Raindance; writing articles, editing the newsletter, managing Twitter, helping on courses, organising volunteers and running the script services are but a few of the ones he is allowed to tell you about.
When he isn’t daydreaming about daylight he watches films (well, duh!) reads a bit, writes a bit and kicks arse at ultimate Frisbee.




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