The Surprise Film is consistently the hottest ticket at the London Film Festival, previous years having included The Wrestler and No Country For Old Men, and after last year’s disappointment with Capitalism: A Love Story a real treat was expected last Sunday.
Somehow the internet decided that the surprise film was most likely Brighton Rock, but this was by no means guaranteed… until the opening credits rolled. What followed did not match the Coen Brothers, Aronofsky or even Michael Moore.
Brighton Rock is everything I was so pleased Submarine was not; a gritty, gangster filled period film with Helen Mirren. In theory the film followed the descent of young rogue Pinkie into organised crime and disaster, when in reality his arc ended after about twenty minutes and then failed to progress for the final hour and a half.
To say that Brighton Rock is terrible would be an exaggeration, it would make a fine addition to any ITV drama line-up. Sadly the film is simply unimpressive and a far cry from the quality you expect to be shown in what is one of the Festival’s top four events. Rather than creating huge hype, the screening felt like a trick, making people buy tickets for a film they would never have shelled out for had they known what they were getting themselves into.
After a rough start Brighton Rock does get better, though never quite finds a way of connecting with its audience and struggles to develop any character beyond their two dimensions. Considering Rowan Joffe, the writer/director, also penned The American he is responsible for more than his fair share of flops for one film festival.
Brighton Rock does not have a UK release yet, and after the backlash it has received this week it could be a good thing.