Helen Mirren In Graham Greene’s BRIGHTON ROCKAugust 31, 2011

Helen Mirren In Graham Greene’s BRIGHTON ROCK

IFC Films

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: BRIGHTON ROCK (IFC Films).

 

BRIGHTON ROCK On Demand
By Chris Claro

 

In his adaptation of Graham Greene’s BRIGHTON ROCK, writer-director Rowan Joffe resets the noirish story of a low-level hood named Pinkie to early-60s England, against the background of the Mods vs. Rockers riots that gave rise to both the hippie and the skinhead movements. With the time shift, Joffe is able to take advantage of the styles and music of the era while reinforcing the timelessness of Greene’s violent tale of murder and deceit.

Sullen, violent, but oh-so-seductive Pinkie Brown (Sam Riley, CONTROL) finds himself in trouble after accidentally killing a member of a rival gang. To prove his innocence, Pinkie insinuates himself into the life of waitress Rose (Andrea Riseborough, HAPPY-GO-LUCKY), confiding in her about the murder and convincing her to marry him. Rose, under Pinkie’s hypnotic spell, does so, over the objections of Ida (Helen Mirren, RED), who sees Pinkie as the sociopath he is. True to the film’s noir roots, complications ensue and things end badly.

 

 

BRIGHTON ROCK is an odd duck: a middling thriller that almost seems more concerned with its production design than its modest story. True, the thin ties and period cars and Dave Clark Five tunes ground the film, but they also detract from a generally well-acted tale which calls to mind the moral dilemmas faced by characters in such contemporary stories of guilt and retribution as A SIMPLE PLAN and BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD.

As in those films, the slow build toward an inevitably dark conclusion saps BRIGHTON ROCK of some of its suspense, but Joffe compensates by coaxing strong performances from his actors. The Riley’s brooding Pinkie emanates a sinister sexiness that’s catnip to the naive Rose. Riseborough stands out as Rose, who becomes more mature and aware of herself even as she refuses to see Pinkie as anything but misunderstood.

 

 

As we’ve come to expect from such seasoned pros, the performances by Helen Mirren and John Hurt are a pleasure to watch. Mirren can play a character like Ida in her sleep, but, to the actress’s credit, she gives it her all, and portrays Ida as a flinty survivor who’s been around long enough to know what Pinkie and Rose are all about. Likewise, the stalwart Hurt, who makes every film in which he appears better – with the possible exception of the turd-like Ryan O’Neal comedy PARTNERS – raises BRIGHTON ROCK up a notch with his portrait of a man who’s given up trying to separate the good guys from the bad.

 



Joffe maintains a suitably menacing mood throughout BRIGHTON ROCK and the film’s set pieces, particularly the film’s melodramatic conclusion, set on the infamous white cliffs of the scepter’d isle, are memorable and effective. Though somewhat predictable, BRIGHTON ROCK evokes a unique time in a picturesque setting and features rock-solid performances from Mirren and Hurt. If dark period pieces are your thing, dial up BRIGHTON ROCK.

 

 

- Chris Claro

Chris
Chris Claro is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. He is a former Director of Promotion for Sundance Channel and now works as a writer, producer, and media educator. He is a regular contributor to dvdverdict.com and contributor to the Eyes and Ears section of huffingtonpost.com

 

Look for BRIGHTON ROCK (IFC Films) under your cable system's Movie On Demand section.


 

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