The Films of Rowan Joffe
The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall
Brighton Rock (May 4/12)
Based on Graham Greene's tedious novel, Brighton Rock follows headstrong hoodlum Pinkie Brown (Sam Riley) as he attempts to cover up a murder by befriending (and eventually romancing) the sole witness (Andrea Riseborough's Rose) - with the film detailing the pair's unlikely relationship and the chaos that inevitably ensues as the bodies start piling up. Filmmaker Rowan Joffe has infused Brighton Rock with stylish visuals that initially compensate for the less-than-engrossing storyline, with the movie's passable atmosphere heightened by the strong performances from its eclectic supporting cast (which includes, among others, Helen Mirren, John Hurt, and Andy Serkis). There's little doubt, however, that the decidedly unlikeable nature of Riley's character becomes more and more problematic as time progresses, as the narrative, which is primarily propeled forward by Pinkie's ongoing exploits, consequently suffers from a lack of momentum and compelling elements that inevitably proves disastrous (ie one is simply and persistently unable to work up any interest in Pinkie's comings and goings). And although Joffe has admittedly peppered the proceedings with a handful of compelling interludes (eg a mob killing that's set against the backdrop of a violent riot), Brighton Rock, much like its irrelevent literary predecessor, primarily comes off as a worthless waste of time that wears out its welcome almost immediately.
Before I Go to Sleep
Based on a seriously lackluster novel, Before I Go to Sleep follows Nicole Kidman's Christine, a woman suffering from anterograde amnesia (ie she wakes up every morning having forgotten everything important), as she begins to suspect that her husband (Colin Firth's Ben) isn't quite the kind, supportive figure he appears to be. Filmmaker Rowan Joffe has, from the get-go, infused Before I Go to Sleep with an utterly routine and run-of-the-mill feel that's nothing less than disastrous, as there's virtually nothing here designed to capture and sustain the viewer's interest - with the movie's lackluster atmosphere compounded by a sense of pacing that couldn't possibly be more lethargic. Kidman's by-the-numbers performance certainly doesn't help matters, nor does the decidedly repetitive nature of the movie's midsection - as scripter Joffe offers up a monotonous narrative that grows more and more tedious as time slowly progresses. It's worth noting, too, that the expected twists that begin to crop up are hardly able to relieve the tedious vibe, as such moments arrive far beyond the point where the viewer is able to wholeheartedly care about their existence. The revelation-heavy, action-packed final stretch fares especially poorly, not surprisingly, and Before I Go to Sleep is, as a result, ultimately unable to establish itself as anything more than a hopelessly bottom-of-the-barrel thriller.