Film Review: Brighton Rock [dir. Rowan Joffe; 2010]

I suppose this new adaptation of Graham Greene's 30s novel deserves some credit for having ambitious intentions. It shifts the action to the early 60s, thereby placing it against the backdrop of the Mods and Rockers conflicts. It features heightened, starkly lit visuals. And it attempts to draw intense performances from its actors. But somehow, the disparate elements never gel. For a start, the pacing is poor. Once the initial premise is set up - a young hoodlum enters into a doomed relationship with a waitress in order to prevent her from implicating him in a crime - several functional scenes follow each other in predictable succession with little sense of tension or danger. The other problem - which stems from the first - is the presentation of the theme of Catholic guilt. Using shots of churches, crucifixes and religious paintings, Joffe keeps insisting that we take his film as a study of people seeking salvation for their souls, but because we haven't grown attached to the central characters, these spiritual ideas fall flat too. A disappointing mis-fire.   


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