Graham Greene’s novel, Brighton Rock, was set in the interwar years of racecourse gangs in Brighton, but in Rowan Joffe’s adaptation it has been updated to the early 1960s, a world of running seaside battles between Mods and Rockers.
The characters are there: the terrifying teenage gangster, Pinkie, the hapless Rose and the unlikely heroine Ida Arnold. Pinkie, the embodiment of evil, is in charge of a Brighton protection mob, and decides to challenge criminal grandee Colleoni. This turf war is complicated by other problems Pinkie is having: he has murdered an enemy gangster, Hale, and through an awful quirk of fate a seaside photographer snapped Pinkie’s accomplice Spicer (Phil Davis) snarlingly menacing Hale as he was desperately attempting to cosy up to a waitress on her lunch-hour in the forlorn hope that this would deter his assailants. It’s a love story, but dark and claustrophobic, as it’s a love story between a murderer and a witness.