Brighton Candy Floss

Sam Riley in Brighton Rock (2010)

After witnessing the murder of their boss by small-time crook Fred Hale (Sean Harris), Pinkie Brown (Sam Riley) and the rest of the gang; Spicer (Philip Davis), Cubitt (Craig Parkinson) and Dallow (Nonso Anozie) set about taking Hale down, which Pinkie does with a piece of rock under Brighton pier. But matters become complicated as firstly Pinkie and Spicer finds themselves rivalling each other for the leadership of the gang whilst waitress Rosie Wilson (Andrea Riseborough) witnessed Spicer giving chase to Hale which leads to Pinkie having to cosy up to her to make sure she doesn't blab. Meanwhile Ida (Helen Mirren) Rosie's boss and who was Hale's lover suspects that Pinkie is guilty and wants Rosie to go to the police.

It has been a while since I watched the 1947 version of "Brighton Rock" and whilst I remember aspects of it I had forgotten enough so that I wasn't making direct comparisons when it came to watching the 2010 version by director Rowan Joffe. And that is probably a good thing because I would probably think a lot worse of this version of Graham Greene's 1938 novel "Brighton Rock" than I actually do.

Philip Davis in Brighton Rock (2010)

Now I can sum up "Brighton Rock" by discussing the opening scene of the movie which shows straight way that the story has shifted to the 1960s. But what is evident is the Joffe has put a lot of time and effort in to crafting the look of the movie as we have this drama taking place on a rainy night under a walkway with street lights illuminating things perfectly to create stunning backlit imagery. It is beautiful but also far too manufactured to the point that the whole thing doesn't look natural. This happens in almost every single scene with what appears to me being Joffe seeking visual perfection but taking it too far to the point of making it unrealistic.

As such the focus on the movie's look ends up taking away from the story with scenes stretched out to highlight the perfect look to the point it starts feeling painfully drawn out. This has a knock on effect of making the characters feel like they lack depth because every scene seems to be about the surface look rather than the emotion which lurks beneath. The one exception to this is Sam Riley who manages to make Pinkie a menacing figure, a thug with the ability to snap in a blink of an eye.

What this all boils down to is that "Brighton Rock" is certainly a stylish movie but it is a case that there is too much focus on the look and that search for the perfect look ends up detracting from the story and the acting.

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