Brighton Rock is a 2010 British crime film loosely based on Graham Greene's 1938 novel of the same name. Rowan Joffé wrote the screenplay and directed the film, which stars Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough, Andy Serkis, John Hurt, Sean Harris and Helen Mirren.
The novel was previously made into a film in 1947 by the Boulting brothers under the same title. Although the novel and original film are both set in the 1930s, the 21st century adaptation takes place in Brighton and is set during the Mods and Rockers era of the 1960s.
Riley plays "Pinkie", the role originally played by Richard Attenborough. Filming began in October 2009. It was largely filmed in the nearby town of Eastbourne, with Eastbourne Pier standing in for Brighton Pier, and at Beachy Head. Some scenes were shot at Hedsor House in Buckinghamshire and in Brighton itself.
In 1964, Pinkie Brown, the sociopathic enforcer of a Brighton gang, murders Fred Hale, who has himself killed the gang leader, Kite. Brown befriends Rose, a young waitress who witnessed the gang's activity, to keep an eye on her. She falls in love with him. To prevent her from being compelled to give evidence against him, he marries her. Ida, Rose's employer and a friend of Hale's, takes it upon herself to save the girl from the monster she has married.Sam Riley as Pinkie Brown
Andrea Riseborough as Rose
Andy Serkis as Mr. Colleoni
John Hurt as Phil Corkery
Helen Mirren as Ida
Sean Harris as Hale
Phil Davis as Spicer
Nonso Anozie as Dallow
Craig Parkinson as Cubitt
Steve Evets as Mr. Wilson
Rowan Joffé was originally uninterested in the project, which as first proposed was to be a remake of the film. After re-reading the novel, however, Joffé "fell absolutely in love with the character of Rose" and convinced the studio to let him adapt the novel directly. Joffe later explained why he did his own adaptation of the novel:
The novel was worthy of a contemporary adaptation. In fact, it makes it almost more dutiful as a filmmaker if you love the novel, to bring it to life without the restriction of censorship. I mean, a lot of the Catholicism was cut out of the original film because they didn’t want to offend Catholics... there are aspects of the film where if critics were to be honest about, and few of them have been certainly in England, that the 1947 version is a rather tame adaptation and certainly fails to do justice to the character of Rose, because the original black and white was made in a period where we were culturally and politically very patronizing to women.
Apropos to the location, Pinkie kills Spicer by shoving a stick of Brighton rock candy down his throat.
Brighton Rock premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2010 and the BFI London Film Festival in October 2010.
The film was released theatrically in the United Kingdom on 4 February 2011, and in Australia on 14 April 2011. In the United States, IFC Films released the film in August 2011, theatrically in New York City and Los Angeles, and elsewhere via video-on-demand.
Brighton Rock received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 53% of 89 critics gave the film a positive review, for an average rating of 5.7/10. Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score from 1 to 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gave the film a 57 based on 24 reviews indicating "mixed or average reviews." According to Stephen Holden, "Mr. Joffé has turned Brighton Rock into a full-scale film noir with the stylistic undertow of a more modern British gangster movie. As potentially lethal as the thugs may be, they are also slightly over-the-hill small-time bookies who seem anything but invincible, and the movie gives each a complicated personality. Andy Serkis is outstanding as the oily Colleoni, a smirking sybarite and crime lord with playboy airs." Holden notes "Mr. Riley, now 31, is a little too old to play a teenage gangster, and it throws the movie off somewhat. If Pinkie's recklessly impulsive behavior is that of a frightened teenager, Mr. Riley's slick hair, facial scar and cold, wide-eyed stare suggest a seasoned smoothie who has watched a lot more dirty water slosh under the bridge than any teenager could have witnessed." Nevertheless, Holden concludes "By discarding most of the theological debate [found in the book], the movie is no longer a passion play but a gritty and despairing noir. That’s good enough for me."