The original BRIGHTON ROCK/’47, adapted from his own novel by Graham Greene (with Terrence Rattigan), rarely seems to show up. Now, here’s a new version, with the story modishly updated to the early ‘60s. It’s the directing debut of Rowan Joffe, son of turgid helmer Roland Joffé, and while it’s stylishly accomplished on the surface, the story loses rather than gains resonance from the time shift. Sam Riley is too smooth & a decade too mature as ‘Pinkie,’ the young, amoral punk trying to poach territory from a rival gang for his protection racket. When the older, better funded group takes action against him, someone winds up dead and Pinkie needs to babysit a possible witness to the crime. That’s Rose, played by Andrea Riseborough, also a good decade on the wrong side of her role. So when she’s falls for Pinkie, reading his threatening menace as romantic yearnings, she seems more daft than innocent. And Sam Riley, at thirty, isn’t able to mask his own confusion about his conflicted feelings as awkward adolescent behavior. Joffe tries to pull in the changing social world of youth gangs ( Mods & Rockers) as a comparison to the old guard thugs, but the two worlds don’t meaningfully interact, it's just scenery. Plenty of good actors are milling about (Helen Mirren, John Hurt, Andy Serkis), but the connective tissue is missing. And the jokey bit of Catholic mysticism right at the end might even have made Graham Greene blush.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Try the original BRIGHTON ROCK/’47 from the Boulting Bros (apparently now out in all regions) and let us know what you think.