Brighton Rock

DRAMA; 1hr 51min

STARRING: Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough, Helen Mirren

Mod squad: Riley (front)

Brighton’s Palace Pier is a creepy playground where criminals stalk each other amid the touristic carry-on in writer-director Rowan Joffe’s heavy-duty adaptation of Graham Greene’s 1939 novel, updated here to 1964. Baby-faced 17-year-old gang member Pinkie Brown (Control ’s Riley, bravely reimagining Richard Attenborough’s iconic 1947 portrayal) is fevered with ambition even as he fears its fallout. After beating a rival to death, Pinkie lays on the razored charm with waitress Rose Wilson (Riseborough) who has potentially damning evidence against him. Despite the pleas of her lioness-protective boss (the perennially classy Mirren), naïve Rose is entranced by Pinkie’s psychopathic ferocity. Instead of running screaming, she blindly binds herself to him even though he is blatantly using her in his bloody business of gang domination.


Bad boys are enticing — every girl knows that. Joffe knows it, too, going all out with operatic menace and hyper-intense portrayals from Riley and Riseborough, who could be two kids playing at high drama if Pinkie weren’t such a case. He’s a mesmerising demon, and Riley plays that to the hilt with the cold authority of evil.