Author Topic: BRIGHTON ROCK (2010)  (Read 180 times)

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Offline agate

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« on: February 05, 2014, 02:33:15 pm »

Brighton Rock stands out among the Graham Greene novels I have read because of its setting. I associate Greene’s best work with far-flung settings–Africa, Mexico–but Brighton Rock captures the seedy, down-at-heel milieu of the seaside town of Brighton. As I recall the novel opens with a preliminary statement or epigraph telling us that Brighton rock is a candy well known in Brighton:  a long column of hard candy with the word “Brighton” indelibly in its center so that you keep eating the candy, but you never get rid of that word “Brighton.” That statement, its position as a prelude to the novel, along with the title, should tell us that the candy–the type of candy it is–is central to the story.

That doesn’t come through in this movie, which updates the 1938 novel and sets it in about 1964. This change works fairly well although the Brighton of the 1930s may have been the kind of place where you were apt to find someone like Pinkie, the psychopathic teenage hood, just because of the rackets that were probably so prevalent there at the time. I’m not so sure that the Brighton of the 1960s would have been similar, and the dialogue sometimes isn’t the sort of speech that would have been spoken in the 1960s as well.

Critics have faulted the movie for jettisoning the Catholicism of the novel, and, though I haven’t read the novel in many years, the movie left a very different impression on me. A scene with the naive Rose praying the rosary under a crucifix and another scene involving nuns in a hospital or home for unwed mothers at the end do not constitute Greene’s Catholicism as it is usually reflected in his fiction.

Any statements about the Brighton rock candy, which Pinkie uses to murder one of his victims, are pretty much pushed into the background.

Don’t viewers wonder why the movie had this title?

Then there is the ending. I don’t recall the book’s ending but it certainly wasn’t the one this movie has.  Rose, still stricken by Pinkie’s violent death and about to give birth to his child, finally gets around to listening to a record she’d wanted him to make while they were together. As gaga as she has been over Pinkie, it’s a bit too much of the long arm of coincidence that when she finally has a chance to listen to it (some nine months later by my calculation), the record just happens to stick at the very point where she would have found out that Pinkie’s statements were full of venom against her. Eventually she’ll get the record unstuck, of course, and maybe we can reassure ourselves that she will come to her senses at that point.

The acting seems excellent throughout, however–especially Helen Mirren as Ida and Andrea Riseborough as Rose.  And there are many scenes of Brighton that probably capture exactly the Brighton Greene described–rundown, crowded, sleazy–and dwarfed by the powerful ocean. The movie was well worth watching for those scenes alone.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2014, 02:38:01 pm by agate »
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