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Brighton Rock

Graham Eley

Upon selling the film rights to one of his novels, Julian Barnes once urged the producer not to be faithful.  Quite right.  A faithful adaptation restricts scope for innovation and, more often and than not, lacks vitality; leaving us with an experience on a par with a truncated version of a rather hackneyed TV serial for the lazy Sunday night viewer.  But filmmakers should be on their guard; the book police will be on their case, monitoring even the most minutest change to the nth degree.  Changes must speak for themselves, they must be intelligent and must make absolute sense within the wider context of the film’s form.

 

Rowan Joffe made the brave decision to adapt Graham Greene’s classic novel, Brighton Rock.  A daunting endeavour in itself but all the more so for having to compete against John Boulting’s outstanding 1947 film noir adaptation, co-scripted by Greene and containing one of the great performances of British Cinema, Richard Attenborough playing the young pretender, Pinkie.

 

The changes are extensive, Joffe moving the setting to the early Sixties when Brighton hangs in a suspended state on the threshold of the youth revolution.  Here, Pinkie’s challenge to the old school gangsters takes on wider cultural implications as part of new attitudes, still in their infancy but very much the seeds that lead to such a generational sea change later in the decade.  Something different, a new way of considering the text but relevant and coherent.

 

The key themes remain; defining God and virtue through the binary opposites of Satan and evil, all within the context of Catholic guilt and pending damnation.  Strong is the sense of a living hell, a kind of precursor to the real thing, as Pinkie comes to terms or otherwise with the ultimate punishment for his crimes; the film being set during the final stages of capital punishment.

 

Quite rightly, Sam Riley’s performance is very different from Richard Attenborough’s.  More moody, a certain Mods coolness but we never doubt his ruthlessness and fear.  There is much to admire in Andrea Riseborough’s Rose and her portrayal of single mindedness born out of naivety. And Helen Mirren is in fine form as the worldly Ida who knows a thing or two about men and certainly too much for Pinkie.

 

It works effectively enough as a thriller and the changes generate sufficient interest to make the adaptation/remake worthwhile.  Probably the pick of the recent Greene adaptations although Phillip Noyce did a particularly competent job on The Quiet American.generic cialis from usa safeorder cialis online usacialis mail order pharmacycialis generic datecheap cialis generic canadabuy cialis online with paypalcialis going genericcheap cialis pillsonline viagra cialis levitracialis price per pill

 

  • Year: 2010
  • Country: UK
  • Filmmaker: Rowan Joffe
  • Screenwriter: Rowan Joffe
  • Producer: Paul Webster
  • Cinematographer: John Mathieson
  • Editor: Joe Walker
  • Cast: Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough, Helen Mirren, John Hurt, Andy Serkis & Phil Davis
  • Duration: 111 mins
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