(Directed by Rowan Joffe) (2010)
Graham Greene’s late1930s razor gangster novel, suffused in Catholic guilt, became a successful stage play during the War and a good, gritty film (1947) with Richard Attenborough (the perfect actor for this kind of nasty, cowardly little thug), showing the barnacles under the boardwalk. It’s a murder story that morphs into a domestic horror scene, and it doesn’t work too well in terms of cohesion, but nevertheless contains some starkly effective squalor.
But why film it in 2010? Why film it predominantly not in Brighton? Why set it in the 1960s and drench it in pretty photography, such that it seems to have lurched onto the set of Quadrophenia? Why cast two charisma-and-interest-free stars (Sam Riley and Andrea Riseborough) as Pinkie and Rose? And why, oh why, above all, keep the roles of two worldly-wise adults, reminiscent of Roger Livesey in The Entertainer, to add a kind of Greek Chorus of Concern, that was old hat in 1947?
The whole melange is odd, empty, curiously sterile, unmoving, and an embarrassment for Helen Mirren and John Hurt (as the alleged adults), who must have wondered where the hell their agents landed them. Not in genuine film noir territory, for sure.