Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Brighton Rock

Earlier this evening, I went to see Brighton Rock. I should point out that I have neither seen the 1947 version of the film, featuring Richard Attenborough, nor read the novel.

Sam Riley is Pinkie Brown, a runner in a Brighton gang who witnesses the gang's leader (and his mentor) being murdered by a member of a rival gang. He takes the subsequent reprisals too far and murders the man responsible.

Matters are complicated by the presence of Rose (Andrea Riseborough), who has the potential to be a devasting witness should she ever tell the police what she knows, and her employer Ida (Helen Mirren) who was a sometime lover of the deceased. Can Pinkie ensure that Rose doesn't reveal what she knows or will Ida persuade her to speak to to police?

Riley gives a steady and measured performance which takes his character from a wet-behind-the-ears teenager who fluffs his first attempt to revenge the killing to the sociopathic killer whom, it seems, will stop at nothing to avoid capture. Rose can only be described as "dowdy" - a fifties throwback in 1960s Brighton - living with her father and working in a tea room. Her association with Pinkie offers her - she believes - "a life" but she seems, initially at least, unable to step out of her down-trodden role and use the knowledge she has as power and currency. Mirren is great as Ida, exhibiting a steely determination to find out what happened to her "gentlemen friend" and to save Rose fromthe life of a gangster's moll.

The film is bleak in its portrayal of human nature - both that of the sociopathic Pinkie and the blindly loving Rose. The palette is equally dark and even the gaitiy of the Palace Pier at night takes on a jaded feel. It is safe to assume that Brighton's tourist authoroties did not have a veto on the portrayal of the city!

For all the inevitabilty of an impending doom, however, the film manages to maintain tension throughout in part due to the score. While other reviewers have described this as bombastic, I felt that this was well judged, adding an additional layer of melodrama.

All in all, I enjoyed this a lot. It is beautifully shot and while the slow pace may not be to everyones taste, it is well worth going to see. Of course, you may have an alternative opinion of this film or be able to compare it to the book or the classic film. If so, please feel feee to share your thoughts below. In the meantime, I'm giving Brighton Rock 7/10.



Raybeard said...

That sounds like a pretty good recommendation. I'm going next Monday. Only saw the original once and that was yonks ago when we just had a B/W telly; but it was a B/W film anyway. I imagine that in this new version a lot of Brightonians are going to feel let down on discovering that a large part of the seafront and pier scenes were actually shot in Eastbourne, that resort retaining more of the 1960s feel and architecture for when this film is set. (Must get round to reading the book too.)

oneexwidow said...

Hmmm... I had read that the pier and other filming had been done in Eastbourne... not that I'd have known!

There is a screening of the original here in Bristol towards the end of the month - unfortunately I'm supposed to be away that weekend!

Kyle said...

Stan and I would probably love this one Andrew. I'll add it to the Netflix queue.

MadeInScotland said...

We went to see the musical version of it at the Almeida, and I found it devastating. I hadn't realised how evil Pinky was, worse than Iago, with seeming little motive.