An adaptation of Graham Greene's classic novel about a small-town hood who marries a waitress who witnessed him murdering a rival thug in order to keep her quiet. As his gang begins to doubt his abilities, the man becomes more desperate and violent. Written by
Good versus Evil, Sin and Redemption: Graham Greene Revisited
BRIGHTON ROCK is a British remake of the 1947 brilliant film noir based on the novel by Graham Greene an adapted for the screen by Graham Greene and Terrance Rattigan. This BRIGHTON ROCK has been updated from the original 1930s setting to the 1960s and the screenplay is by Rowan Joffe (who also directs) - tough competition with the original writers! The result is a dark film that relies on performances by some actors who are not up to the task and makes them seem even more weak by the presence of such brilliant actors in smaller roles as Helen Mirren, John Hurt, Philip Davis and Andrea Riseborough.
The story takes place in 1964 in Brighton, once a quiet seaside town, is suddenly overrun by gangs of sharp suited Mods and greasy Rockers looking for a riot. Looking to be the top Mod gangster, Pinkie Brown (Sam Riley) will stop at nothing to be the biggest name in the crime world - bigger than the competitor Colleoni (Andy Serkis). Pinkie witnesses the vicious death of fellow Mod Kite (Goeff Bell) and is determined to kill the perpetrator Hale (Sean Harris). Pinkie's ruthless and violent ambition takes over his mission and when he discovers that a waitress named Rose (Andrea Riseborough) who works at Snows, a café run by Ida (Helen Mirren), is involved tangentially in the murders, Pinkie decides to court the plain Jane Rose, knowing that if he marries her she cannot testify against him should she discover Pinkie's guilt in the murders. Ida had a 'connection' with Hale and sees through the veils of deceit Pinkie is placing on the innocent Rose, and she and her longtime friend Phil (John Hurt) undermine Pinkie's plans. Pinkie marries Rose - a gesture that secures Rose's fascination and new love for Pinkie - to keep her from testifying against him. As factors around the conflicts between the two gangs tighten and Pinkie fears for his end, he convinces his new bride to take part in a mutual suicide, an act that has a surprising end.
What is missing in this updated adaptation is Graham Greene's important emphasis on the theme of sin, guilt and Catholicism: there are attempts to bring these concepts into the script but they become of lesser importance than the action and dark evocation of a period piece. There mood is well described by the cinematography of John Mathieson, but the single most effective aspect of this film is the brilliant music score by the gifted British composer Martin Phipps, godson of Benjamin Britten. Were there not an original film for comparison the film would likely be better accepted. But for those who are ardent fans of the novels of Graham Greene this film adaptation will likely disappoint. It is currently available On Demand and simultaneously in theaters before the DVD is released here.
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