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).


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.


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