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Review: Brighton Rock

PUBLISHED: 14:05 19 February 2011 | UPDATED: 14:05 19 February 2011

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At the start of this latest adaptation of Graham Greene's classic novel, there is confrontation between the two screen incarnations of Ian Curtis when Sam Riley's Pinkie takes on Sean Harris who plays Hale. I rather feel the wrong one prevails.

At the start of this latest adaptation of Graham Greene’s classic novel, there is confrontation between the two screen incarnations of Ian Curtis when Sam Riley’s Pinkie takes on Sean Harris who plays Hale. I rather feel the wrong one prevails.

Riley’s success in Control has convinced the producers to hand him one of the classic British delinquent roles in Greene’s tale of pre-war coastal hoodlum Catholic angst.

Just to rev it up a bit more, they’ve updated it to 1964 and the Mods and Rockers – so there is the whole weight of Quadrophenia to work with. It’s stardom-on-a-plate but Riley barely nibbles.

Despite all his knife-wielding menace, he comes across like a little boy who’s been dressed up by his mum. that ought to produce an intriguing dichotomy but it just seems like a put-on and he delivers his lines in a thin little voice. The film charts his self destructive rise but he’s not a commanding presence.

It doesn’t help that the rest of the cast is so strong.

Someone really ought to give Harris a lead, he seems to blaze in short little cameos (he shares the best scene in Harry Brown with Michael Caine) and he really makes a mark here as Pinkie’s first victim.

Mirren, Davis, John Hurt and Andy Serkis are all good, but best of all is Andrea Riseborough in the potentially thankless role of Rose, the witness that Pinkie reluctantly romances in order to ensure that she doesn’t turn him into the police for the murder of hale. handled badly, the character of Rose could be something the film has to work around but

Riseborough captures her willing self deception and lack of self worth so well, Rose becomes the real heart of the film.

It’s Roland Joffe’s first feature length directing job and he isn’t going down without a fight. he gets the crane out for some elaborate shots around the pier and makes full use of the seaside locations.

He doesn’t flinch from taking on the full Greene, with all the Catholicism. the decision to change the date makes sense; equating Pinkie’s story to the moment young people stopped knowing their place and started the move to become the centre of society.

But he hasn’t really captured the story; rather he has shaped it into a series of nice looking set pieces.

Brighton Rock (15)

Director: Rowan Joffe

With: Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough, Helen Mirren, Phil Davis, John Hurt and Andy Serkis

Length: 111 mins

**

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