In the same month that the Coen Brothers are re-imagining a somewhat uninspired American novel with great success and class, we Brits are managing to butcher another bona fide masterwork from one of our greatest scribes of the 20th century. Though, I guess, an interesting idea to set Greene 30s set Brighton Rock in the 1960s with a backdrop of the rise of the unruly youth culture - it is never fully utilised; a huge shame because of the way it perfectly compliments the core story of orphaned street hood Pinkies ill-fated attempt to seize power in the Brighton underworld. Bright Rock circa 2011 is such a failure on so many levels, which raises questions as to why the Film Council and the BBC would green light a clearly underdeveloped script and place it in the hands of a rookie director, who does nothing here to convince he has the flare or potential to be bestowed such a role. But perhaps the bigger question is why did we need a remake of Brighton Rock in the first place? Are there really no original scripts out there? The piece is flabby; long scenes of expositional dialogue inform us of things we know or could easily assume. The plot lingers and lingers, removing any pace and tempo. While violent, it never dares to stray into the territories that Scorsese and De Palma dared to thirty years ago. And the key element and conflict in the character of Pinkie Religion is not nearly prevalent enough. Worse in fact, rather than removing this element or fully embracing it they take a neither here nor there approach which does nothing but convince us that the filmmakers were not sure what they were doing. Worst of all, the performances are bland. Sam Riley fails to convey the same deftness as he did portraying Ian Curtis in the excellent Control, and more importantly never comes close to capturing the intensity and complexity of Pinkie, who although is unquestionably one of the most difficult characters in all of fiction, was defined so perfectly by Richard Attenborough in the original. A tough act to follow, for anyone; Riley didnt come within a country mile. Andrea Riseborough - taking over from late-departure Carey Mulligan may look the part of the lonely, nervous and desperate for love Rose, but she gives a performance more akin to a soap opera than a work of Greene. Its another character that just didnt receive the time, attention or development that was desperately needed. Even the veterans Helen Mirren and John Hurt turn in tired performances and Andy Serkis, playing the head of the Brigton Underworld, Mr. Colleone is anonymous. To say that watching one of my favourite novels butchered was what I imagine being cut up piece by piece by a rusty pen knife would be an exaggeration. But not much of one. So avoid this one and whatever the next ill-conceived Green adaptation may be. Our Man in Havana set in Iraq in the 80s starring Danny Dyer? Would you be surprised? Save your money and buy the forthcoming Blu-ray transfer of the original instead. Brighton Rock is released in the U.K. tomorrow.
Frustratingly argumentative writer, eater, reader and fanatical about film ‘n’ food and all things fundamentally flawed. I have been a member of the WhatCulture family since it was known as Obsessed with Film way back in the bygone year of 2010. I review films, festivals, launch events, award ceremonies and conduct interviews with members of the ‘biz’. Follow me @FilmnFoodFan
In 2011 I launched the restaurant and food criticism section. I now review restaurants alongside film and the greatest rarity – the food ‘n’ film crossover. Let your imaginations run wild as you mull on what that might look like!