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Review: Brighton Rock

Rowan Joffe's adaptation of Graham Greene's 1939 novel
By PETER KEOUGH  |  August 23, 2011
2.0 2.0 Stars

For Graham Greene, the Catholic Church served more as a scourge than a comfort, but in Rowan Joffe's dreary, incoherent adaptation of Greene's 1939 novel, it merely offers an excuse to add choirs to the soundtrack. As Greene might have said, Joffe misses the heart of the matter, the war between Good and Evil in every soul. Not much of that is going on in 17-year-old Pinkie (Sam Riley), rising Brighton mobster; though he says he's "Roman," he's just another psycho punk in the mold of Caligula, Billy the Kid, and Alex in A Clockwork Orange. When Rose (Andrea Riseborough), a waitress at a seaside café, witnesses something that might send Pinkie to the gallows, he woos her to secure her silence. Rose is a Roman, too — of the masochist persuasion as opposed to Pinkie's sadist leanings — so they might actually make a nice couple. But not if Ida (Helen Mirren) has her way: she wants justice done. Joffe fumbles with the bones of Greene's parable, but the flesh, blood, and spirit elude him.

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