Brighton Rock doesn't rock me
This was a bit of a chore. A clumsy film, weakly directed, that skates across the surface of Brighton, the Book's its characters and its underworld, never really connecting.
First, it doesn’t know what era it’s in. The interiors are either 20s chic hotels, 30s grime rooms or 60s cafes, so it doesn’t hang together. It jerks along with this series of disjointed interiors and exteriors with the director trying too hard to create ‘atmosphere’.
Second, this was 1964, the year of The Beatles and Stones, yet all we heard were bursts of swooping, over-engineered, film score. The music flooded into and overwhelmed scenes, destroying what little emotion was being created. What a missed opportunity.
Third, the mods and rockers setting isn’t used to any good effect, merely a backdrop for the violence. Pinkie swans around on a moped but there’s no connection between him or any of the other characters and these youth movements, so what was the point? Another opportunity missed.
Fourth, the Catholic theme, rampant in the novel, is also crudely inserted into the plot and the final scene has none of the real absolution and horror of the ‘confession box’ in the book. It’s like a series of ads inserted into the film.
Fifth, Helen Mirren, as Ida, is at worst miscast, at best she simply plays it wrong; far too posh to have any heart, as if Ida was a sophisticated, demur lady of means, rather than the tough, feisty, battlehard woman she had to be. Why ruin the 'star' opportunity by having her downplay the role?
Lastly, the criminal underworld is strongly represented in the original book and movie, but here they’re sanitised. The hardmen never swear and the dialogue between them has no humour, no heart. In fact it’s not really dialogue at all, only a series of crude exchanges, as the plot rolls along. And that’s the problem with this film; it’s rock ‘n roll without the ‘rock’.