Brighton, 1964. Organised crime has moved into this sleepy English seaside town. Ambitious young gangster Pinkie Brown is determined to stop other gangs taking over his patch, but when he kills a rival, vital evidence falls into the innocent hands of a young impressionable waitress, Rose.
Pinkie seduces Rose to stop her talking but her employer Ida is suspicious of their relationship. A year before the abolition of the death penalty, can Pinkie trust Rose not to betray him and can Rose trust Pinkie not to make her his next victim?
Director Rowan Joffe brings us his first feature film to receive a theatrical release with “Brighton Rock”, based on the novel by Graham Greene which was previously made into a film in 1947. Both the previous film and the novel are based in the 1930’s; this film has altered the setting by moving the story into the mid 1960’s. Rowan Joffe previous film credits include the screenplays for both ‘The American’ and ’28 Weeks Later’.
‘Brighton Rock’ wastes no time delving immediately into the critical events that will shape the path of the characters for the entire film. The sequence of events comes across somewhat convoluted initially however as the characters and events are fleshed out as the film progresses important points begin to fall into place.
The settings and costumes of the characters take good attention to details resulting in an effective means of fleshing out the characters throughout this film. The locations where the characters spend time, the clothes on their back, it gives a strong context as to where the various factions sit with one another in terms of wealth and power.
Overall the film is very slowly paced, it chooses just a few story arcs and spends a lot of time exploring them however without a great amount of depth to the motivations of the characters and the events taking place it tends to linger too long and makes for quite a slow burn from beginning to end.
The ideas and overall events are interesting and compelling enough however the film doesn’t manage to take full advantage, and spends too much time on certain aspects which while interesting, lack the substance to carry the film. For the most part the scrip was sound however in the early parts of the film when setting up events and relationships that become very important as the film progresses, there is again something lacking in terms of the believability of the decision some characters make which the film suffers for in the final act as it looks to capitalise on the emotional drama it has sought to set up earlier on.
The central relationship in the film is handled very well, the conflicting aspects and the complexities of the events forcing this relationship to be pursued are portrayed in an effective manner which provides for some strong scenes throughout.
To the film’s credit the acting of the entire cast is very strong, Sam Riley’s portrayal of an emotionally conflicted if not devoid mobster clinging to some sense of power is chilling, and special mention should be made of Helen Mirren’s performance, who arguably has the most amount of material to work with delivers a great performance and is enjoyable to watch on screen in every scene she makes an appearance.
Without any knowledge of the source material where this film springs from, there doesn’t appear to be anything lost from the movement from the 1930’s to the 1960’s in terms of the story. Certain aspects would no doubt have changed however the core story seems viable for either time period.
Overall ‘Brighton Rock’ was somewhat disappointing, the events of the film are interesting and offer potential, strong acting carries things a long way however the tendency to linger on various plot elements, the lack of substance at times and the overall slow pacing leaves something to be desired.
I’m giving this film 2.5 out of 5 stars, it will be released in cinemas around Australia from Thursday 14th April.