Friday, November 15, 2013

Brighton Rock (2011). B

I only just read Graham Greene's Brighton Rock this year, so I don't mind that I didn't catch Rowan Joffe's film version of it until now. I enjoyed it. Joffe has a good visual eye, and he clearly cares about his source material. But I'm not sure how good he is as a storyteller. If his previous major project as screenwriter for The American is any indication, he clearly values mood over narrative substance. Unfortunately, that's not good enough for a story of this magnitude. While the book isn't one of Greene's best, it contains many of the deeper ideas that appear throughout his most profound novels. Joffe's method seems to be to make the film look cool, to give us largely stock characters, and to throw in bits and pieces of Greene's intellectual and religious themes to give the film a portentous feel. The film really falls flat in that area. Happily, it has other virtues. As I said, it looks splendid, and I'll always welcome a British gangster tale set in the 1960s. And Sam Riley, who plays the tortured protagonist, Pinkie, is convincing, if a bit dull in his one-note role. Hellen Mirren and John Hurt add some classiness to the production with performances they could have done in their sleep but that are still very welcome nonetheless. 

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