Who says noir is dead? The brilliant, yet dark film “Brighton Rock” is both haunting and devastating, and proves it isn’t. Based on Grahame Greene’s 1938 novel, which was the basis for the 1947 film previously, this new adaptation retains the classic story of low-life gangs prowling the English coast and the lives they intersect with. When low-level hood Pinkie (Sam Riley) begins to woo Rose (Andrea Risebourough), its because of her link to a crime. Rose is desperate for attention and Pinkie’s half-hearted attention is enough to keep her quiet. Joining Riley and Risebourough is a stellar cast including Helen Mirren and John Hurt, and in a brief yet powerful role, Andy Serkis as a rival gang boss.
Filled with beautiful imagery and moments of shocking, explosive violence, the story teases hopeless tragedy with just a hint of optimism. Flawlessly shifting the action of Greene’s book to early 1960’s England, when “mods” and “rockers” drug-fueled battles shook English society to the core, the backdrop against which this dark film takes place seems to represent both a lost moment in time and a harbinger of dramatic changes to come. Of particular note are two scenes to watch for, one when Pinkie lies in bed watching a spider descend, and another when he steps into a record booth to make a souvenir recording for his sweetheart.
Make no mistake, this is a dark tale to witness, but between stellar performances and spot-on art direction, this film is quite moving and successful, just don’t go expecting to feel uplifted afterward.
“Brighton Rock” is playing at the Loft Theatre starting September 30. 3233 East Speedway, 795-7777 for showtimes. LoftCinema.com