A friend gave me this DVD of a British film, Brighton Rock. I don’t recall why she thought I might like it. It is a period piece, taking place in 1964 when the mob ruled parts of England and susceptible youths became the bosses’ minions. From 2010, the film is rated R for violence, language and some sexual content. It is a thriller, crime drama.
Pinkie (Sam Riley) is an ambitious tough young man, who will stop at nothing to gain his way into the world of Colleoni (Andy Serkis), who’s kind of like the Godfather, only British style.
Rose (Andrea Riseborough) works in a teashop as a waitress, and her employer Ida (Helen Mirren) becomes concerned when she begins hanging out with Pinkie. Her friend Phil (John Hurt) helps her try to save Rose from sure ruin or even death. Rose has unfortunately seen a man who was later murdered and even has a slip for a photo of them one of those pesky photographers take when you’re on the boardwalk of Coney Island. Pinkie is determined she keep her silence, and feigns interest in her. He warns her about what could be done to her by others if she talks to anyone about what she’s seen. How much of Pinkie’s interest in Rose is an act, and how much is real fondness of her is much of the story’s question.
Rose falls head over heels in love with Pinkie, why I don’t know as he is about as unappealing as a pit bull. They could have at least made Pinkie endearing somehow to explain why Rose is attracted to him. She is not ugly in the least, just a little dowdy in her appearance, so I find it difficult to believe he was the first young man to show her any attentions. Their relationship really doesn’t work for me.
These are volatile times in England with youth rioting, not really clear why, and the mob taking hold of owners of shops to “protect” them. This seaside community doesn’t seem to be very well off and is dreary and wet, aside from the Hotel Cosmopolitan where Colleoni lives.
Brighton Rock is based on the 1938 novel by Graham Greene, and has a sort of film noir feel to it. There was an earlier Brighton Rock film made in 1947, and this adaptation updates the action to 1964. Andy Serkis gives the best performance. You may recognize his name as he played the evil Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He’s a fine actor all around, and his performance here as Colleoni is at least memorable. I can’t say much for the other actors in this film. Pinkie rarely has anything other than a scowl on his face, and Ida is rarely animated either. Ms. Riseborough has the naïve Rose character down pat, but she is unlikable, not good for the story.
Save your time for one of my other recommended films. This DVD goes out for sale.