“Brighton rock” Not rated. At Kendall Square Cinema.: C-
Rowan Joffe, writer–director of a newish adaptation of Graham Greene’s 1938 first novel “Brighton Rock,” is more photographer than filmmaker.
His version has been updated to 1964 and is festooned with the Mods and Rockers of the terrific, London-and-Brighton-set, the Who-based, semi-musical “Quadrophenia” (1979), from which it takes another inspiration. and the truth is it could have used some of the Who’s music instead of the pounding neo-noir stylings it has on its soundtrack.
Set in the eponymous seaside resort, “Brighton Rock” is a turgid crime-and-punishment drama, telling the story of lapsed Catholic Pinkie Brown (Sam Riley of “Control”), a sharp-dressing sociopath who kills an older man in early scenes and spends the rest of the film running from real and imaginary pursuers. He also tries to get an innocent young witness, a waitress at a tea room on Brighton’s Palace Pier named Rose (Andrea Riseborough of “Made in Dagenham”), to keep her mouth shut or else.
The film, which asks us to buy Riseborough as a wallflower, is also unpersuasive in its flash-cut, shaky-cam stiletto knife fights. As gang member Spicer, veteran English actor Philip Davis (“Bleak House”) barks so madly I thought he was going to sprout two more legs and wee on a passerby. -Riley maintains a permanent frown, as if someone had just emitted something silent but deadly in his immediate vicinity. Like me, you may choose to ponder how Pinkie manages to keep his hair artfully mussed and his posh overcoat’s collar upturned so perfectly.
Still, he looks spiffy tooling around the cliff-rimmed coast on a stolen motor scooter. As Pinkie’s doomed victim, Sean Harris is so twitchy I thought he was going to break out in hives. the great Helen Mirren can’t do much with the role of the film’s aging but sultry seductress, pub regular and tea room shop owner Ida. As another older Brighton beach habitue, John hurt is mostly wasted.
This new “Brighton Rock” is most notably atmospheric, and its contemplative moments can be beautiful to look at, recalling at times Carol Reed’s Graham Greene-scripted classic “the third Man” (1949). but it’s a hash -otherwise. Greene’s rival mob boss is named mr. Colleoni (Andy Serkis), and in the mouth of an Englishman the name sounds sufficiently like Corleone to be distracting. That Colleoni hangs out in a hotel that resembles a period-correct Vidal Sassoon hair salon does not help.
The title “Brighton Rock” refers to the sugary confection native to the resort. the movie is a misfire.
(“Brighton Rock” contains violence, profanity and sexually suggestive scenes.)
<a href="http://www.bostonherald.com/entertainment/movies/reviews/view.bg?articleid=1361448&srvc=home&position=alsotag:news.google.com,2005:cluster=http://www.bostonherald.com/entertainment/movies/reviews/view.bg?articleid=1361448″>Skip the trip to ‘Brighton Rock’
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