An adaptation of Graham Greene's classic novel about a small-town hood who marries a waitress who deduced that he killed 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
The main character of this movie is Pinkie Brown, a small-time thug in Brighton, England, in the 1960s. Pinkie's true evil nature comes out when he tries to take over a small gang of criminals after their leader had been killed by a rival gang. As played here, Pinkie is in his 20s and, as brash and amoral as he is, he and his mediocre cohorts are no match for the rival gang that basically runs underground crime in Brighton.
The action is sordid and ugly, but the glossy color photography works at cross purposes to conveying that mood. Much of the photography is more appropriate for an art film than for this down-and-dirty fare, making me think that maybe black and white would have been a more appropriate choice. As Pinkie, I found Sam Riley just a little too handsome for the part--he does not exude the menace and harsh personality that is Pinkie's nature.
I found the initial setup scenes rapid-paced and confusing, requiring close attention; if you don't follow what has happened early on, you will be at a loss to fully understand what happens later. An additional complication to my following the opening scenes was the fact that I am not a Brit and didn't always follow the cadences and clipped manner of speaking. I confess to starting the movie over after about fifteen minutes, with English subtitles turned on. That was a great help.
The score that often seems to aspire to the transcendent seems greatly out of place.
I wish I had seen this movie before having read the book, since having some of the images in mind would have been good. Never having been to Brighton, my mental picture of it would have been greatly enhanced by what is well captured here. While the movie strips from the book much of the depth of the themes of sexuality, morality, loyalty, and sin, there are things in the movie that I found improved upon the book. I liked Helen Mirren's portrayal of Ida as a more centered person than the blithe Ida of the book, and John Hurt fleshed out Ida's friend Phil better than what I got from the book. And there are a lot of little things. For example, I pictured the candy, Brighton rock, as being something like a candy cane rather than the weighty rod seen in the movie. I regret that Pinkie's lawyer Prewitt was deleted--he was a truly Dickensian character in the book. And why the great ending in the book was changed is beyond me.
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