Movie Review: Brighton Rock

Brighton Rock is an English film based on the novel by Graham Greene.  The film is set in Brighton, England in 1964.  The main character is Pinkie, played by Sam Riley, who is some sort of low life kid who has gotten into a Brighton gang or mob.  The film follows him and the events that somewhat propel him from a low level gangster to a would-be gang boss.

From the start of the film, I was confused about what was going on in the film and the structure of these mobs.  The different mobs seem to be at war with each other for control of whatever they might be controlling in Brighton.  The mob boss of Pinkie’s gang is killed at the beginning of the film.  Pinkie reveres this guy as a kind of father figure and seems to mourn his loss.   Somehow Pinkie ends up murdering a member of another mob gang, and this puts Pinkie in the cross hairs.  Before the murder, a souvenir photo was taken of the victim, another member of Pinkie’s gang named Spicer (Philip Davis), and a local girl named Rose (Andrea Riseborough).   The murder and the picture throw Pinkie into a situation where he must befriend Rose.  Along the way, Rose’s boss Ida (Helen Mirren) and her friend Phil (John Hurt) also enter the story.

I wish I could go into more detail about the plot, but I remain confused about the actual point of this film and what exactly is happening in most of the film.  That is the first major problem with Brighton Rock, and the fact that I did not care is the second problem.

After the first half of the film, I honestly did not care what happened to the story or the characters.  None of the characters have any redeeming qualities.  Pinkie is a despicable, low-life character.  He is not worth much as a person, yet he somehow gets his fellow gang members to listen to him.  He is gangly and skinny, yet he is able to push people around.  The addition of Rose who is unknowingly being used by Pinkie just adds to the audience’s contempt for him.  Rose does not have much self worth and basically will do anything that Pinkie asks her to do.  She was obviously not loved by her father as a child and now tries to find love with Pinkie.  I believe the audience is supposed to feel for Rose and be on her side, but I did not like her character either.  She is not very smart and just blindly believes everything and anything about Pinkie.  Rose is definitely not a poster child for feminism.

Even with some stellar actors in the mix like Helen Mirren, John Hurt, and Andy Serkis, the film is still bad.  Along with characters that are not likeable is a script that is pretty mediocre.  When there is a script that contains lines between the two main characters that goes like this, “I’m bad.  You’re bad.  We are made for each other.”  Please do not try to pull the line off as anything but laughable.

While I had decent hopes for Brighton Rock, those hopes were dashed quite quickly as the film progressed.  The film is plagued with a confusing plot, a bad script, and deplorable characters.  I cannot find any reason that one may want to sit down and watch this film.  Maybe if you have read the book, the film adaptation might be interesting to see.  Save your money and go and see another film.  If you must see it, wait until it is on DVD, so that the fast forward button is an option.

I give Brighton Rock 1 “piece of Brighton rock” out of 5.

by Sarah Ksiazek

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