It’s a brave thing indeed to remake one of Britain’s most beloved films. On the cusp of the 1960s, a vicious Brighton gangster turf-war is under way.
Writer/director Rowan Joffe has perfectly captured the novel’s macabre nihilistic tone while at the same time rendering the film in a very different way to it its illustrious predecessor.
Joffe wisely understands that Greene’s novel plays out its twisted tale against a certain moral and social vacuum found in 1930s Britain, just before WWII, which wouldn’t quite work in today’s post-New Labour world. Instead Joffe sets his films in the early 1960s with a different set of social fluxes underpinning it.
The dawn of British youth subcultures cleverly highlights the changing moral universe as Mods and Rockers clash on the beaches with the authorities seemingly powerless to control the country’s youth. Pinkie (Sam Riley – Control) applies this chilling new amorality, and lack of respect for the old guard, to his brutal turf war, but even he doesn’t bargain for quite how fast things are moving in the psyche of the underworld.
Something of heightened gothic is at play here, and it pays off beautifully in its coldly calculating dissection of human greed, frailty, and delusion. It will be fascinating to see if this new version manages to capture the imagination of a whole new generation just as the original did in its time.