Dead man biking.
Arrgh. When vocabulary doesn't provide you with the necessary means to communicate your feelings about a certain issue, sometimes its better for onomatopoeia to take its place. Because frankly I think there is no more succinct, truthful way to describe Brighton Rock then Arrgh. It says what so many words could not, the simpatico shock, disgust and anger that you take out a film that you expect to be good and sucks the big one quite to this extent. There was no reason to expect this, and no reason why this film should have been this bad. There's an interesting story here, some talented actors and it comes from seminal writer Graham Greene, whose cinematic conversion rate stands pretty good right now I would have thought. But Arrgh.
Everything in this film that doesn't relate to surface sheen is so horribly misjudged, to the point that director Rowan Joffe seemed much more concerned with the minutest consideration of framing then say, Sim Riley's entire performance, which stops just short of a joke. Every moment of his performance is so broadly psychopathic with a capital P, that he's taken one of British cinema's most iconic characters and turned them into a CSI villain. Its a breathtakingly immature and simplistic performance that's an insult to the term two-dimensional, and the fact that it comes from Riley an actor I know to have talent, is even more frustrating. Yet I don't want to blame everything on him, because I think that's to do a undeserved kindness to the rest of this truly embarrassing film. Everything is painted in such broad strokes, from the criminal underworld that the film decides to forget around have way through to characterizations, which are all so one-note they may as well be cartoons. Andrea Riseborough is perhaps more a victim of circumstance then anything else, but either way her character is painfully erratic and misjudged, way too broad to communicate the emotional complexity required of the films final act.
The film is a failure very similar to Watchmen in that respect, in which the intellectual source material is present and correct but not understood, and though characters go through the motions and say the words, it feels hollow because the stakes are not there as they should be. Like that film, the visual style of Brighton Rock will win some over. But make no mistake this is a bad film, swimming in waters it is simply to dense to get and this is obvious to the point of blatant. And it's ending is surely to be unchallenged as the most hilarious cinematic moment of 2011. Arrgh.