I had no natural impulse to see this remake of the David Attonborough vehicle of 1947 (nor have I seen this original), but having recently been appointed a volunteer film discussion facilitator for the senior citizen screenings at the National Media Museum, this screenig was chosen for us volunteers to meet the discussion group. I had no idea how busy the screenings themselves would be, but this was packed.
The boss of one gang gets killed by a member of the another. In retribution, Pinky (Sam Riley) kills said rival gang member in a moment of passion, as the aformentioned gang boss was a father figure of Pinky's. As the rest of the gang give him a fair amount of jip - he wasn't supposed to kill him - he goes on to attempt to take over the whole gang. The thing is, the day that this gang member was killed, there was a picture taken with the gang's second in command, the man to be killed and a girl called Rose (Andrea Riseborough). Rose then receives the close attention of Pinky, seducing her and convincing her that she shouldn’t talk to ANYBODY regarding what she knows.
What I liked:
First half was shot well: The whole film was shot quite well shot, but the first half in particular looked great as it reproduced many 1940s noir tropes. That's about it; can't say I was particularly impressed with much more of it.
What I didn't like:
Rose: Can't say it was Riseborough's fault, but the character was such a wet fart that I couldn't have any sympathy for her. What a regressive female character.
Continuation: The scar that Pinky receives early in the film moves to about four different positions on his face throughout the film.
Flat final third: Apart from the very end, the last third descended into a mind-numbingly bland sequence of events.
Sixties - youth rising: Pinky represented a new youthful approach, symbolic of the youth rising outside on the streets throughout the film (Mods V Rockers and all that).
Oedipal Complex: The father figure was toppled at the very beginning. Further, there is a lack of anybody else of a father figure age in the narrative. There is either old (Helen Miran and John Hurt's characters) or young (Pinky, his mates and Rose). This reinforces the generational gap, instigating the rising youth mentioned above.
Babyboomer greed: This greed - born from Pinky's symbolic oedipal lack - led to his downfall. Similar to how the babyboomers of the sixties are now the investment bankers of today.
Performance of the film:
Sam Riley: Miran and Hurt were just Miran and Hurt (as good as that is), so I'd say Riley did a better job at becoming this character. He was mennacing but with enough hints of fragility in order to have the sympathies required for a character in a non-complex genre film.
Scene of the film:
The scene where Pinky kills the rival gang member. They are under Brighton Pier; above the pier and to the side, life is going on just like some bright sunny day, with this seedy life going on underneath.