The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Movie Review-Brighton Rock

By Joshua Knopp/managing editor

Is originality so dead that even art films are based on a book that’s already been adapted to film?

Brighton Rock, the film in question, still feels like it belongs in an art house because it tries to combine the gangster and romance genres. Its main character, Pinkie Brown (Sam Riley), is a teenage member of a secondary gang in Brighton, England.

After accidentally exacting a revenge killing, Brown has to befriend and get a photographer’s claim ticket from Rose (Andrea Riseborough), who was caught in the last photograph of the victim at a carnival.

Rose falls in love with Brown, but the couple is hounded by her boss, Ida Arnold (Helen Mirren), who was a friend of the victim.

The problem with Brighton Rock is the main characters each defy the audience to get behind them. Rose epitomizes naiveté and romanticism, looking more like a victim of 21st century society’s stress on “the one” than a waitress during Beatlemania.

Arnold comes off as that one teacher nobody likes because she won’t let rules slip for any reason. Brown is a sadist.

The romance between the sadist and the easily lovestruck young woman plays out as one would expect, with one part Romeo and Juliet and the other Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The love story is the emotional center of the film, and it either disturbs or satisfies depending on the individual’s point of view.

Brighton Rock draws its plot from a gangster-noir aspect, providing some striking visuals and an excuse for campy action but mostly becoming a backdrop for the romance.

The product can’t be what director Rowan Joffe was going for. Brighton Rock is based on a 1938 novel that had a strong anti-Roman Catholic theme, which was dulled in the 1947 adaptation.

While Joffe derided the original in an interview for muting this theme, his version mentions Catholicism only in passing and doesn’t make the book’s challenge to the religion clear.

Though Joffe said he was more dutiful as a filmmaker because he loved the book, he changed the setting from the ’30s to the ’60s because the youth riots going on at the time fit the book’s themes better.

At the core of a general failure to adapt the novel is the film’s failure to intimate the characters’ deeper emotions. All movies have difficulty doing this, particularly when juxtaposed with a book, but this one hits a dead zone.

The film makes it clear that the characters are experiencing powerful emotions, but the audience doesn’t really know what those emotions are.

The insight of a book would just make other movies better. In Brighton Rock, that insight is paramount to understanding the story, and it just isn’t there.

Any emotions the characters’ possess could be a credit to the actors more than the director.

Andy Serkis surprises the world by taking a role that doesn’t require his motion-capture suit and performs well. Reilly, 31, and Riseborough, 29, are both more than a decade older than their characters.

Through the sorcery of good acting, they’re able to pull off teenage for a couple of hours. The privilege of playing opposite Mirren, 66, helped. So did makeup.

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