Monday, 7 February 2011

Brighton Rock

On Friday we went to see the remake of Brighton Rock. As I'm sure you're aware, the novel has been moved forward by a few decades by director Rowan Joffe to take place against the Mods and Rockers seaside battles in the 1960s.

While some of the attitudes and language contained in Greene's novel don't quite match up to the new setting, it makes for a fantastic visual impact. Brighton (and Eastbourne which acted as a double for some of the scenes) looks great. There's some familiar locations from London also used for the filming - Westminster's Regency Cafe (last seen in TV documentary Posh and Posher) is used for several scenes for example. There's some really striking scenes, such as the one pictured above where Sam Riley, playing Pinkie, makes his escape from a rival gang on a stolen scooter amidst the Mods descending on the town.

It uses its setting to build up contrasts and to reveal the tensions of the period. There's the luxurious, fashionable swinging side of the sixties against the land of the dingy bedsitter, the traditional tearoom aspect of the British seaside and the town's dark underbelly.

The period works really well as a setting for explaining some of the changing attitudes in the film: the breakdown of gang loyalties, Rose's determination to escape, Ida's determination and methods in bringing Pinkie to justice.

I never really got the book because Greene's preoccupation with sin and Catholic doctrine just left me cold, unfortunately, the same applied to this film. A relaxing Friday night viewing it wasn't - my tension levels were higher than ever when I left the cinema - but in terms of style, there was plenty to admire here.

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