Complete A-Z list

Brighton Rock (DQ)


Stars: Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough, Helen Mirren, John Hurt, Andy Serkis, Phil Davis, Geoff Bell, Steven Robertson

Director: Rowan Jaffe

A decent attempt to film Graham Greene's famous postwar novel, this still lacks the sheer grip and claustrophobic menace of the Richard Attenborough original. The action has been updated to 1964, with Brighton in thrall to the mods and rockers, and Riley as Pinkie Brown, a vicious small-time crook (though it's never quite clear what Pinkie does) anxious to cash in on the town's protection rackets run by Colleoni (Serkis), a name that sounds too much like Corleone for the film's comfort.

When Pinkie's boss (Bell) is killed by Colleoni's men, Spicer (Davis) takes over, and seeks out the killer, who happens to be a mate of tea-room boss Ida (Mirren). Waitress Rose (Riseborough), who works for her, is an innocent bystander on the pier who gets caught up in gang warfare as a result of a snap taken by Spicer and Fred (Sean Harris) in the midst of a chase.

Pinkie gets involved with Rose, and seems genuinely fond of her, so that, unlike the original, his ultimate declaration of hatred for her comes as something of a surprise. 'You're good and I'm bad. We're made for each other,' he exclaims with somewhat flawed logic, marrying her so she won't be able to give evidence against him for killing Fred and Spicer in turn. Not that she has any intention of so doing.

The location of the ending has been changed, but otherwise the plot is largely in place (a bit of a mixed blessing), although there are too many stops in the narrative in this version, and Pinkie seems to have less reason to want to kill the girl at the end. Riseborough is particularly good as Rose, and Riley is OK, if lacking Attenborough's impressive and very real threat.

David Quinlan

UK 2010. UK Distributor: Optimum. Technicolor.
111 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 30 Jan 2011