Atmosphere lost in remake, but I enjoyed it
- Brighton Rock review by RP
I hesitated for some time before writing a review of this film as I'm in two minds about it. Is it a pointless remake? Certainly, Graham Greene's 1938 novel and the original 1947 film starring a young Richard Attenborough are classics. But this remake does have something about it.
Updating the time to the 1960s works reasonably well (with excellent photography, and the use of Eastbourne to stand in for many 'Brighton' backgrounds) but one element of the period – and an important one – has been lost. While the film has references to Catholicism, by the 1960s religion was playing a much reduced part of everyday life and certainly in the largely secular England of today religion plays a vanishingly small role. Yet the underlying theme of the novel is about faith, guilt, sin, good and evil, right and wrong, hatred, love, damnation, confession and redemption – almost all of which is lost in the remake. The atmosphere is lost, and it becomes an exercise in story telling.
The remake also keeps the ending from the 1947 film with the record jumping so that it repeats 'I love you', rather than the novel's original ending where Rose will hear 'the greatest horror of all'.
Pinkie is played by a creepy but too-old Sam Riley (in the novel Pinkie was a 17 year old twitchy, nail biting, juvenile delinquent). Rose is well played by Andrea Riseborough, but Ida is played by a miscast Helen Mirren. And the film has a number of anachronisms.
So, it's a bit of a curate's egg: good in parts. I enjoyed it, but I really do wonder if a remake was justified. I guess it will be if it introduces today's audiences to Graham Greene's work – but this really isn't a mainstream film, so I suspect that unfortunately it will fail.
Despite its faults I enjoyed it. I'll give it 3/5 stars, but it won't be to everyone's taste...
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.