Brighton Rock DVD Review

It looks great but once you try it you realise it’s actually very bland.

Having grown up on the south coast, I feel well qualified to pass down this judgement on one of her traditional items of confectionery; and this description goes double for the film by the same name.

Brighton Rock opens with a desperate man making a telephone call from a beachfront public telephone. This is Kite, leader of a small protection racket and in mortal danger from a rival crew.

With no answer, he leaves the phone and turns to face his mob of assailants. Pinkie, a young man whom Kite has taken in, finally picks up and hears what’s occurring at the end of the line.

Dashing to the pier, Kite’s usual place of business, Pinkie arrives too late to save his surrogate father figure from being knifed.

Bristling with anger, Pinkie and the rest of Kite’s crew set out to avenge their boss’s death. This act of revenge leads Pinkie’s path to cross with that of a timid and downtrodden young waitress named Rose.

Accidentally caught up in this mob war and now a key witness in events, Pinkie decides seduction is the best way to keep Rose quiet and sets out to woo her.

But as events spiral dangerously out of control, along with their macabre relationship, Rose’s own life hangs in the balance.

Having seen the ensemble cast and read some good reviews, I was really looking forward to watching Brighton Rock. Yet the story is so boring and poorly conceived that you simply don’t care about any of the characters in the film.

It doesn’t really matter how good of an actor you are when your material is so unengaging.

Rising Brit actor Sam Riley plays Pinkie, a young man consumed with rage although there doesn’t appear to be any real reason for this; making his protagonist two dimensional and ultimately unidentifiable.

And the same formula applies to every other character in Brighton Rock.

Rose, played by Andrea Riseborough, is a young girl so desperate to be loved that she takes Pinkie’s half hearted attention as more than this; glossing over the dark deeds and mind of her young suitor.

Of course, her reasons for feeling like this are never explored either.

Helen Mirren plays Ida, Rose’s concerned boss who takes it upon herself to rescue Rose from her perilous situation. Even though they’re not close and Ida’s continued contact with Rose puts her in danger of violent retribution from Pinkie and even Rose herself, who threatens Ida with a knife unless she stops meddling.

John Hurt and Andy Serkis provide credible support to these three leads, but it’s all in vain.

I’m actually astounded director Rowan Joffe got so many talented actors to sign on with this project, as Brighton Rock really isn’t a story worth telling on film.

Except perhaps the cinematography, as Brighton Rock is beautifully shot from start to finish. In fact, the south coast town is probably the best thing about this film, providing stunning backdrops for the plodding action to unfold.

Brighton Rock’s ending really irked me, crow barring a heavy handed religious message into the closing scene that really had no place being there.

But then the end credits rolled, and I noticed this was adapted by Graham Greene’s book of the same name.

I can only presume Greene was a religious man, and all the actors involved are fans of the iconic author.

For as any south coast boy could tell you, Brighton Rock simply lacks substance.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

June 2011