Brighton Rock Review


Posted by Craig Grobler on Google+ On Monday, February 07, 2011

Brighton RockThe remake of Brighton Rock is easily one of my most anticipated films of 2011. Oddly I saw Brighton Rock on the same day as the remake of another classic and like it, the original Brighton Rock has a place in my great films category but it mostly came down to being told what a great film it was my actual experience of it was a little less than brilliant.


Before I am drawn and quartered for such blasphemy I should mention that I had fully intend to re-watch the original through my adult eyes and reassess it, in the run up to the release of Brighton Rock had it not been for an odd incident which I outline in paragraph 5 below.


My expectations were running high for the remake of Brighton Rock not because I loved the original film which I haven’t seen since I was knee high, or because I was a fan of Graham Greene’s classic novel, which I haven’t read - but rather because last year I was lucky enough to see some early footage from Brighton Rock whilst it was still in post production and hear Director Rowan Joffe and producer Paul Webster discuss their adaptation.

The footage looked absolutely magnificent. There were some great atmospheric, taut, moody shots, British gangsters, fog, chases and knife fights. And I’m not talking about your run of the mill, hoodied east end “av a go” lads these were old school gangsters. This was followed by some incredible footage of a 60s Brighton Mods versus Rocker confrontation.

Brighton Rock
With 100s of scooters driving through Brighton and a suave looking Pinkie on his Lambretta in the pack. I cannot over state how incredible these shots were. I was left thinking four things:
1. Crikey! Brighton Rock looks the business
2. It looked super stylish and may mark the return of style to UK cinema. Similar to what A Single Man did for America
3. It looked like a fresh, serious, take on organized British Crime and we are going to get a Brighton Rock updated for our contemporary post Guy Ritchie sensibilities.
4. Sam Riley’s Pinkie felt like he was going to be added to the pantheon of sharp clever British anti heroes.
I immediately made a note to track down the original Brighton Rock and re-watch it to get me in the mood for the release of Brighton Rock 2010. But then in the final throes of a QA session, an overzealous fan asked something to the effect of “Without giving away the ending - which ending does your Brighton Rock follow? The Book or the previous film version?"

Well, the question itself a paradox and really I should have blocked my ears but I was somewhere in-between: “What possible satisfaction could anyone derive from knowing the ending of a film six months prior to its release?” and “surely someone will intervene before this madness goes any further” – unfortunately not.

So although I vaguely remembered the original I was left knowing how Brighton Rock 2010 would end and couldn’t watch the original version for fear of my viewing pleasure being further compromised.

Brighton Rock The Establishing Shot
Brighton Rock starts with a loud fog horn blasting reminiscent of the loud booms of the Inception soundtrack and we start over a dark ominous sea with waves surging forward. Instantly there is a dark sense of foreboding and film noir - they have pitched the tone in the exact place I was hoping it would be . This is going to be awesome. We then drop into a tense scene where a gangster is being closed in upon by a rival gang. It’s all foggy, dark, 1960s suits, hats, straight razors and bravado.

As the story progresses we discover that a man dispatched early on is the head of a gang and Pinkie’s mentor. Pinkie then sets about laying his revenge on the rival gang whilst furthering his own agenda of moving up the gangland ranks - as well as increasing his power within Brighton, whose jovial seaside town veneer has a thriving dark underworld.

Brighton RockAdd into the mix the changing times, you see Brighton's on the move and is expanding as an entertainment destination. But the 60s youth are carving out their own path and at odds with the older generation as well as themselves. All this combined and we are heading for a collision.

The Good
The film gets the look right, not just the great clothing, spot on sets but the whole 60s seaside atmosphere. Part of this comes down to Brighton Rock having been shot with period lenses. Intentionally using the same equipment as used by the great Jean-Pierre Melville to shoot his brilliant Le Cercle Rouge, one of Rowan Joffe’s favourite crime films. The look combined with the soundtrack makes for an effective experience on the most part.

There are some flashes of brilliant acting mostly coming from; Helen Mirren and John Hurt also from Ian Curtis and especially Andrea Riseborough. There are some great scenes and interaction between characters dotted with some humour.

The Bad
Sometimes when you see a film with very little context you can only read it at face value and not see the depth behind it. That may be the case with my viewing of Brighton Rock. Unfortunately it seems to have all the right bits but just can’t bring them together in a compelling whole. It may have worked better for me if I was more familiar with the characters and there expected trajectories within the Brighton Rock universe, but that would limit the appreciation of Brighton Rock to only those familiar with the source material.

I was a bit lost regarding the moral ambiguity and motivations of some of the characters, especially struggling to understand Pinkie. He waivers between self assured criminal to in over his head juvenile ripped from his mentor too early. It’s never clear where exactly on the spectrum he is most of the time. You could say that may be the point and Pinkie is so warped that he is beyond understanding.

But in reality it just meant that that set-ups lacked tension and there is never a real sense of dread or threat from Pinkie. At best he just seems out of his depth, part victim, part incompetent opportunist misguidedly bumbling from one situation to another. I can’t help but think that the performances aren’t really the issue and rather mis-direction and editing missing an opportunity to tighten the film sufficiently are the weakness at its core.

xxxBrighton Rock
In years to come Brighton Rock may move from misunderstood to an exploration of a morally ambiguous underworld and a wayward, tragic lead but I think the audience need to be more familiar with the Brighton Rock universe before this happens and it may never get the chance under the crushing weight of the much loved previous versions.

Brighton Rock Review

Director: Rowan Joffe
Starring:
Helen Mirren, John Hurt, Andy Serkis, Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough

Brighton Rock is will be slashing cinemas up from Friday 4 February 2011

0 comments

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

The Establishing Shot HOT LIST


I really enjoyed Johannes Roberts' gripping & taut shark attack thrill ride 47 Metres Down - FILM REVIEW

Christopher Nolan & Emma Thomas introduce their modern classic DUNKIRK and answer some questions about DUNKIRK - EVENT REPORT

The Game of Thrones: Touring Exhibition is coming to London - UPCOMING EXHIBITION

I visit the BT Tower for the riveting Fear The Walking Dead Season 3 pre-premiere launch - EVENT REPORT



In Cinemas this week

Features



The 2017 EE BAFTA Nominations announced

Matthew McConaughey introduces GOLD and tells us a little bit about the film

xXx: Return of Xander Cage European Premiere EVENT REPORT
Richard Kelly talks the Making of Donnie Darko
Alex Zane Presents the FDA Autumn/Winter Film Preview & chats with Tom Conti
The Light Between The Oceans Press Conference
De Palma Review
Prop Store Auction Preview Exhibition
Idris Elba suprises us at Star Trek Beyond
The Nice Guys Surprise Us
Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review
10 Criminally underrated British Crime Films you probably haven't seen yet
Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Batmobile
In discussion the making of Triple 9
Deadpool Film Review
Quentin Tarantino talks The Hateful Eight
Star Wars Visions Exhibition Tokyo
SalonQP 2015 Preview
The Rogues Gallery Creation of a Super Villian Book Launch
Legend Press Conference
SPECTRE all the news
No Escape Review
Ant-Man Euoropean Press Conference
Batman: Arkham Knight Cape & Cowl Exhibition London
Ant-Man Willard Wigan Micro Exhibition
Unheard James Bond Themes
Peyton Reed & Paul Rudd introduce Marvel's Ant-Man
Knight of Cups Trailer Breakdown

Latest Film & TV News

Latest reviews:

Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review
Triple 9 Review
Deadpool Film Review
The Hateful Eight Review
Legend Review
No Escape Review
Mr. Holmes Review
The Grandmaster Review
Dawn of The Planet of The Apes Review
The Drop Film Review
300: Rise of an Empire
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Review

Craig Says...







LEGEND OF THE EAST END Exhibition

Legend of the East End Exhibition

135 Bethnal Green Rd,E2,
28 Aug - 11 Sep 2015
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
the alibi film club

The Alibi Cult Film Club

The Alibi ,Dalston, E8 2PB
Every Mon

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London The Making of Harry Potter

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London The Making of Harry Potter

Harry Potter Tour

WB Studios, Leavesden
April 2014+

Bond in Motion Exhibition

Bond in Motion at London Film Museum

Bond in Motion London

London Film Museum
21 March 2014+

TheEstShot Listening To:

Craig's Awesome Mix