Brighton Rock Cast
: Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough, Dame Helen Mirren, John Hurt Director
: Rowan Joffe Genre
: Drama, Mystery, ThrillerRunning Time
: 111 minutes Synopsis
: Adapted from Graham Greene's brilliant 1939 novel, Brighton Rock charts the headlong fall of Pinkie, a razor-wielding disadvantaged teenager.
At the heart of the story is the anti-hero Pinkie's relationship with Rose - an apparently innocent young waitress who stumbles on evidence linking Pinkie and his gang to a revenge killing that Pinkie commits. After the murder, Pinkie seduces Rose, first in an effort to find out how much she knows and latterly to ensure she will not talk to the police. A love story between a murderer and a witness, can Pinkie trust Rose or should he kill her before she talks to the police? Can Rose trust Pinkie or is she next in line? Release Date
: 14th of April, 2011Website
: www.brightontockthemovie.com.au One Of The Greatest Villains in Literary History
When asked the inevitable question why make another 'Brighton Rock', producer Paul Webster is quick to point out that they have not made a remake of the film, but an adaptation of the book. 'It's just a brilliant story', says Paul Webster. 'It features one of the greatest bad guys ever created in Pinkie Brown. Graham Greene was in love with cinema and is eminently adaptable because he writes so cinematically'.
As well as a knack for bringing much-loved novels to the big screen, Paul Webster (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement), is also constantly on the look out for up and coming talent. So when writer/director Rowan Joffe first caught Paul Webster's attention after he had seen Rowan Joffe's first TV drama, he didn't waste any time tracking him down and making his interest known. Paul Webster explains, 'I'd seen Secret Life, which was produced by Jane Featherstone at Kudos, and thought it was brilliant. So I hunted Rowan Joffe down and literally said "I'm there for you if you ever want to make a feature film".' The idea of making another adaptation of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock came about through Ron Halpern, who is in charge of exploiting StudioCanal's back catalogue, and Will Clarke, who ran Optimum in the UK. Kudos were talking to them about a number of titles they were interested in remaking, one of which was Brighton Rock.
Unbeknown to Paul Webster at the time, Rowan Joffe's US agent, Bob Bookman, who is also StudioCanal's agent was thinking along the same lines. 'There was some kind of morphic resonance going on', laughs Paul Webster. 'Suddenly all the elements came together and next thing we knew we were making the film'. But Rowan Joffe was not so sure about the idea when the project was first put to him, as Paul Webster points out. 'I remember talking to Rowan Joffe at the time and he just said "No I couldn't possibly do it. It's such a famous film and book, it's far too daunting; we're on a hiding to nothing." But, as I have now learnt about Rowan, he went away and thought things over in an incredibly detailed way and came back to me and said "right, I know how to do this". He pitched it back to me and it was a brilliant take on the original story'.
From StudioCanal Features' point of view it was vital for the company's first production project to be something unique and wholly British, as Will Clarke, at that time CEO of Optimum Releasing, explains. 'We'd already identified the project as the first of our production ambitions as we wanted something unique and cinematic. We just hadn't found the right 'take' to make us take the leap. This was until Rowan Joffe pitched us his idea for the film, which blew us away. Around the same time we were speaking with Paul Webster on a few ideas and he mentioned a great writer/director, Rowan Joffe, who had done some wonderful work that he wanted to work with. The stars seemed aligned so it was a no-brainer for us from then on in'. 'Just the word 'remake' was enough to put me off the whole idea', says Rowan Joffe, 'because the original 1947 movie is, as we all know, a classic and has this extraordinary performance by Richard Attenborough which, given the time, was really quite ground-breaking.'
But when Rowan Joffe thought more in terms of the book, he changed his mind. 'In my view, Brighton Rock could be considered the same way a Shakespeare play is - in that it is a strong enough work of literature that it deserves more than one adaptation. When I re-read the book I got very excited by the character of Pinkie. Very excited by his relationship with Rose and very excited by the possibility of making a movie that was truer to the book in some ways. Obviously the original film was co-written by Graham Greene himself so to that extent we could never equal or better the authenticity of his script but because we weren't labouring under the censorship and morals of the late forties, what we could do is make a film that was as dark, violent and as perversely sensual as the book. That was one of the reasons I thought I'd like to have a go.'
Rowan Joffe's first task when approaching the project was to decide when to set the film. 'My initial thinking was do I set the movie when the book is set i.e. 1939 or try and bring it to modern day?' For many reasons setting it in the modern day didn't work. Some were technical in that the story hinges on the playing of a record and the idea of a jumping CD didn't seem to have the same romance, but there was a more profound reason a modern day setting wouldn't work. For the story of Brighton Rock to be really effective you have to believe in the idea of the innocence particularly embodied in Rose. The world we live in now is one where it is almost impossible to exist with that degree of naivety. Simply the existence of televisions in everyone's homes and the internet and everything else meant that you couldn't create a convincingly sheltered character, so for that reason I needed to find another way to make it modern without compromising the story'.
Rowan Joffe came up with the idea of setting the film in 1964 because he felt that year represented the beginning of modernity. It would still have a contemporary edge but more importantly it meant a chance to explore one of the most interesting periods of modern history in terms of the change in youth and gang culture as well as in the British legal system.
'The novel is about the rise through the gangland ranks of a 17 year old hero', Rowan Joffe explains. '1964 was the first time in British history that teenagers flexed their muscles economically, culturally and physically. Plus of course Brighton was the setting of the quasi-riots between emerging teenage Mods and older Rockers, which contextualises Pinkie's 'youth rebellion' perfectly. 1964 was a year after off-track gambling was legalised, spawning more than a hundred betting shops a week up and down the country and engendering, paradoxically, a massive wave in organised crime. The Sixties was the era of the great British gangster, the kind of working class hero that the frightened and ambitious Pinkie longs to be. It was also the last year in which the death penalty was actively carried out. The threat of hanging would be a crucial motivation in Pinkie's desperate attempts to get rid of witnesses to his revenge killing. So it just seemed an almost God-given year to set the film in. I will never know if Graham Greene would have approved but it was a very Graham Greene-like time to tell the story'.
One of the other key elements of the original story was Catholicism, which was at the root of much of Graham Greene's writing, particularly in exploring the power of good, evil, Heaven and Hell as he did in 'Brighton Rock'. Therefore, perhaps surprisingly, in his original script Rowan Joffe decided to leave out any overt references to Catholicism through anxiety on the part of the investors as to how an audience might respond to it as a theme in the film. But having taken it out, everyone involved soon realised their mistake, as Paul Webster explains.
'Once we tried it without the emphasis of Catholicism in the story and the moral conflicts the key characters have as a result, it all fell flat on its face and it soon became clear that this was the beating heart of the story'. Rowan Joffe continues, 'Graham Greene converted to Catholicism in order to marry the woman he was passionately in love with and this engendered a life-long love/hate relationship with the Catholic Church. Saying that, Catholicism was something that fascinated him and I think something that he approached in a very human and a very intellectual manner. So it was not just a theme in Brighton Rock but the whole of Graham Greene's oeuvre and absolutely endemic to Pinkie and Rose's characters. But also what makes Brighton Rock more than a crime thriller is that it's not just the noose that Pinkie's frightened of but the possibility of eternal damnation, which lends the story an epic scope.'
When asked about his intention to stay truer to the book, Rowan Joffe explains, 'the creative process behind writing the original screenplay is still something of a mystery. For example, regarding the famous last scene of the movie where the record gets stuck and the only part of Pinkie's message we hear is 'I love you, I love you, I love you..', Graham Greene and co-writer Terence Rattigan famously fought over whose idea it was, so we can never really know Graham Greene's creative process in any great detail. What Rowan Joffe did go back to the book for was his inspiration for the murders of Hale and Spicer. In the 1947 film Greene appeared to shy away from the brutality of the original book where it is hinted that Fred Hale was choked to death by Pinkie with a stick of rock, with Hale pushed off the ghost train in the original film. Rowan Joffe transferred this idea to Spicer's death. 'In the original movie Spicer falls down some stairs which I found slightly less dramatic for a modern audience than the perverse, violent and brutal death with the stick of rock'.Finding Their Pinkie and Rose
Despite inhabiting them more than 60 years ago, Richard Attenborough left some pretty big shoes to fill in terms of finding a 'Pinkie' for the film. As Rowan Joffe recounts, 'The biggest fear I had when I was writing and as we began casting was that I wouldn't find a Pinkie. It wasn't so much that I wanted to find a better Pinkie than Richard Attenborough but I felt that if mine was not at least equal to him in some way then the movie would get a critical panning, so I was very nervous about who to cast. I'd seen and loved Sam Riley in Control and this was a very different movie, although there were similarities in that both the characters of Ian Curtis and Pinkie had dark hearts. So Sam Riley came and met us all and the minute he walked in I thought my God, this an actor unlike any other English actor alive today. He is someone with all the charisma and good looks of Alan Delon but he's also got a kind of edge and a mischief and occasionally a demonic ability too. There's something wonderfully shrewd and manipulative about the Pinkie that Sam Riley has managed to deliver and I knew pretty much the minute I met him that I wanted to offer him the part'.
Sam Riley had read the original book when he was 12 or 13 but when he heard the project was in the pipeline he jumped at the chance to go for the part. 'I think I probably fantasised about being Pinkie when I read the book if I'm honest! But I remember hearing that there was a script floating around for it and that they were resetting it in the 60's, which I thought was possibly risky, but I read it and I loved it. It's one of the great fictional characters and parts like that for guys my age rarely come about. So I was very eager to get it. If I could pick a part, I think most young guys would say exactly the same thing. You'd play someone that's not particularly sympathetic, wearing fantastic suits with a scar on your face, a flick knife and a bottle of acid in your pocket. I get to cut up John Hurt and I get to play with Helen Mirren and Andrea Riseborough. I had pick-pocketing lessons; I had to do a scooter test. Plus I've always wanted to be in a 60's gangster movie with slick hair! I was in hog heaven.'
For Sam Riley though it was important not to dwell on the previous film but concentrate on creating a 'Pinkie' of his own. 'It did make me anxious in some ways', he explains, 'so I did watch the original film and thought Richard Attenborough was amazing. But I only watched it the once because you don't really want to remember how somebody else played something in case you start mimicking.' Nonso Anozie, who plays gang member Dallow says of Sam Riley, 'He's done a great job, he has a kind of stillness about him and his eyes convey so much. I love the scene on the stairs with Helen Mirren when I come to the top of the stairs and Sam Riley asks her what she's doing here. I remember looking at the monitor and thinking crikey, he really has it. Some people just have that ability to really capture an audience. All you can do is watch him go.'
The casting of Andrea Riseborough as Rose was not so straightforward. 'Well the truth of the matter is', explains Rowan Joffe, 'there were two actresses who really stood out for me as potential Roses. One was Carey Mulligan and the other was Andrea Riseborough and it was almost impossible to choose between the two. But Carey Mulligan was unable to do the movie because she did Wall Street 2 so it was not difficult to cast Andrea Riseborough instead because she was someone I'd always felt enormously connected to'.
Andrea Riseborough fell in love with Rose the minute she read the script. 'My love affair with Rose was the driving force in terms of wanting to do the project. I just felt like it was very natural; it was like when I was reading it she was speaking in my head from the very first moment. She's so pure and so true, not in a way that is pious or trite or irritating, but she has a hope and a belief in good. The tragedy is that things don't always work out as you hope they will, but the hope she has and the unfaltering devotion and bravery are extraordinary qualities in any person.'
Rowan Joffe recalls Andrea Riseborough's audition saying, 'When she came in I said to her 'why do you want to play the part of Rose?' and she looked at me and she said 'well, it's the scene where Pinkie pinches her arm and she says 'you can keep doing that if you like it', that's why I want to play Rose. Now interestingly I had taken that scene out of the current draft and the minute Andrea Riseborough said that, I put the scene back in. It was one of those very few instances where an actor is so connected with the part that she will actually influence the writing or rewriting of the script. She was right to pick out that scene. It is the key to why Rose has a relationship with someone as devilish and sadistic in some ways as Pinkie, so we were absolutely bowled over with Andrea Riseborough's performance. I think she's just a really truly extraordinary actress and we were very lucky to work with her'.
Of Pinkie and Rose's relationship, Andre Riseborough relates to her experiences as a naive 17 year old. 'I'm sure I walked round with a sign on my head saying treat me like shit and I'll come back for more! There's something incredibly tantalising about how dismissive and short Pinkie can be with Rose and then he can turn it right round and be completely charming. Of course that's the most exciting thing in the world. She's not used to being treated very well and he's treated her better than anyone else at any rate. So yes, she's very pure and they both have the very same innocence and they're both terrified. In fact Pinkie is more terrified than she is. She's ready to give up her whole life for him; it's a very mature foresight she has in a way.'
For many of the extraordinary line-up of talent drawn to the film, the attraction was very much Rowan Joffe and his astounding immersion into the world of Graham Greene and his attention to detail. Sam Riley explains, 'having written the script as well and knowing the characters so clearly, we had nearly two weeks' rehearsal, preparation and talking about it which I just loved. So just before you are about to start shooting you really get to grips with it. Rowan Joffe gave me confidence that I knew what I was doing and that I wasn't doing a bad job, which is the way I like to work. I don't want anyone shouting at me telling me I'm crap to get me to cry. He did it in another way.' Helen Mirren came relatively late to the cast as previously her schedule meant she couldn't be involved, but while the film was in pre-production she became free. She hadn't seen the script yet but just wanted to meet Rowan Joffe.
Says Rowan Joffe of his meeting with Helen Mirren, 'I didn't know how committed she was to doing the film, so I'd prepared enthusiastically for 3 or 4 days as soon as I knew when I was going for this meeting with the great Dame. So I turned up with a rucksack full of information, with music I wanted her to listen to, references from Greek mythology, and how Norman Sherry says in the first volume of his biography that Graham Greene may have been influenced by Mae West when he came to write the part of Ida. As she saw me laying out all this material on her coffee table she looked at me and said "Rowan Joffe I'm not that kind of actress'. I said "ok" and I just put all the material back in the bag and as I was doing it I'm thinking, what am I going to say if she's not that kind of actress; what do we talk about?!'
Of Rowan Joffe, Helen Mirren simply says, 'he wrote a wonderful, very tight and nicely balanced script. He's confident which is what you need in a director. He's at the beginning of his career so you need confidence in a person at that point, but it's not an arrogance, he knows what he wants his movie to be and how to get it there, and that's all you want as an actor.'
Helen Mirren also had strong ideas of how Ida should be played. 'From what Rowan Joffehad written I took it a bit further in a different direction', says Helen Mirren. 'His model for the character was Mae West, and mine was Sophia Loren or Anna Magnani, so there was a big difference there. Both character interpretations had an earthiness and a brazenness so there's a similarity in that sense but I basically didn't want to be blond or big and brassy, and I'd always wanted to play a red head!'. Rowan Joffe says of Helen Mirren's portrayal of Ida, 'She brought a kind of glamour to the part of Ida and also a strength. It was important she did that because Graham Greene had himself described her as a character that refused stubbornly to come off the page, so I knew there was a real challenge to make Ida come to life'.
John Hurt who plays Phil Corkery also came to the project fairly late and for Rowan Joffe it was a pleasure to bring the two actors together for the first time on film. 'They had worked together once before in a play called A Month In The Country and by pure coincidence I had seen that production when I was about 17, so I had witnessed them on stage together and was very excited about bringing them together on film. They had a lovely chemistry and again, unlike the book, we had the chance to develop something more of the relationship between Phil Corkery and Helen Mirren's character Ida.' For John Hurt his first concern when first he knew of the project was the prospect of remaking such a classic, but it was Rowan Joffe's passion for the project that attracted him. 'I was talking to Rowan Joffe and his version really is an hommage to the book rather than the film. He's very interesting to work with, very charming and completely obsessed by the piece, which is good.
What also attracted me was that the change of period really worked. I think my criteria have always been that a piece should stand a chance of succeeding on the level it is intended to succeed on. And I think this does; it's kind of a spooky thriller in a sense and it's about innocence and evil.'
Sean Harris who plays Fred Hale says of the director, 'He wrote me a letter, which was great and he actually knew my work. So I met him and just talked about the film and the world of the film and my character. It was his enthusiasm that was exciting and I thought I really want to work with him. On set I just desperately wanted to do my best for him, you want to go the whole 100% and further for him. He's been very clever at understanding me and how I work. If I feel vulnerable in places like people do, he's very sensitive to it; we're all individuals and the director has to tap into us and he's done that really well.'
John Hurt's involvement also may have swayed Sean Harris too as he explains, 'He probably changed my life; my life is incredibly different because of him. Watching John Hurt's film 10 Rillington Place and his role in that got me into acting and the power of film, being provocative and questioning things and being challenging. He just turned me on to acting. I'd be plucking chickens if it wasn't for Mr Hurt.'
Of his character Fred Hale, Sean Harris says he is the catalyst in the story that tips Pinkie over the edge in many ways. 'It's Hale's accidental killing of Kite, I think, that turns Pinkie and makes him into a psychotic sociopath. When Pinkie chases Fred Hale bent on revenge, then when Fred Hale slashes and scars Pinkie, it's something he will always have as a reminder; it's a big thing. It's very much the creation of Pinkie.'
The creation of the gang was a well thought-out process, taking into account the dynamics of the characters and how they worked together, but also the period of 1964 and how that would influence the tone of the group. Rowan Joffe explains, 'I would say post Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, I felt I had to do something different with the idea of a British gangster. So I didn't try and sell the gang as a particularly hard and brutal bunch of British thugs. What I tried to do was expose their vulnerabilities and their weaknesses. The main dynamic of the story is they're trackside bookies, they're kind of has-beens in a way, small time gangsters and it's at a time when Brighton is being taken over by a much bigger and more brutal organisation. So I tried to choose a Spicer who can't take the strain and wants to retire, a Cubitt who puts on a tough front but is ultimately a bit of an opportunist and a coward, and in Nonso Anozie who plays Dallow, I wanted to find a character with genuine strength but also genuine compassion; he is the archetypal gentle giant. Phil Davis is a fantastic Spicer because Phil Davis has a vulnerability to him. In almost every part that Phil Davis has played, I've felt sorry for him and I've felt that he often plays the kind of characters who live in a world that they're a bit battered and a bit overwhelmed by, but who also have a quiet integrity. Something about Spicer isn't prepared to go as far as Pinkie, which is why Pinkie rises through the ranks'.
For Phil Davis, who worked with Rowan Joffe previously in Secret Life he was most attracted to the project by his character Spicer. 'This is a character defined by fear, he's absolutely terrified but he's trying to keep his front up and lead the gang and scare people but inside he's absolutely terrified. He's also getting on, he's in his mid-fifties like me, and you can't do that sort of thing forever. It was his fear that really attracted me, that's more interesting than just playing a villain'.
Nonso Anozie, who plays Dallow, was taken by the script and how it literally came off the page. 'To see the characters in all their glory you could almost feel the pauses when you read it, it jumped out at me as a great thing to be part of. Dallow is quite an integral part of the film, being the enforcer of the group, the strong tough guy. He comes across quite slow and lumbering at first but by the time you get to the end of the film, from the understanding that Rowan Joffe and I have and the way I'm portraying Dallow, you see he's had quite a handle on the situation from the start. He's a very keen observer and he thinks a lot before he moves. He's the only one that keeps Pinkie in line.' Anozie was also fascinated by the period the film was set in. 'I think for me, as a black man to be portrayed at that time was really important, a lot of people were trying to fit in.
You see him frying his hair and trying to make it straight so he can fit in, it's all that conformity to the fashion and to the time and it's a great time to explore'.
'If you look at the old film now, it's dangerous and beautiful', says Craig Parkinson who plays Cubitt, 'but, by transferring it to 1964 it will capture a younger audience. It ups the stakes from what it was, the danger levels are much higher'. Cubitt completes the gang and of all of them is probably the most antagonistic towards Pinkie. 'Cubitt has been in Kite's gang for a long time', says Craig Parkinson. 'He clearly has ideas above his station and thinks that the natural progression of things is that he would become leader. He doesn't see Pinkie as any threat and laughs him off until a certain point where the tables are turned and you see Cubitt for what he really is; weak, selfish and a bit of a scaredy cat!'.
One character who may be small on screen time but big on impact is rival gang leader Colleoni played by Andy Serkis. 'Colleoni sort of straddles the old world and the new order I suppose', explains Andy Serkis. 'He's moved into Brighton and works for a big mob, he's quite high up but he sees himself as more of a business man. He would see himself as someone who has moved away from being a gangster, moving up the pecking order and being respectable and therefore deserves everything he's worked for. He is a luxurious human being who enjoys all manner of pleasures. You only see a glimpse of him but what you do see is a rather louche character, not someone you'd want to spend much time with.'
Producer Paul Webster has the last word on the power of Andy Serkis' performance. 'We needed an actor as all-embracing as Andy Serkis to take that character on its little journey, because it's more or less an extended cameo. It's very important though that that character, Colleoni, the gang boss, comes over as powerful and intimidating because we see him so little but he has an enormous importance on the story. I think Andy Serkis understood that and played with the ambiguities of the character beautifully. I mean, what's his sexuality? Does he fancy this bloke a bit? Probably. Because he's a good looking boy. And he admires him as well, because he understands the way of the criminal and he sees ways of working with him, but always from a totally manipulative point of view. I think it's a cracking cameo from Andy Serkis.'Creating A Modern Classic Film Noir
Rowan Joffe readily admits his initial idea of how he wanted the film to look was heading off in a different direction before he talked to Director of Photography, John Mathieson (Robin Hood, Stoned, Hannibal, Gladiator).
'I met with a number of DoP's and the minute John Mathieson walked into the room I could almost smell the talent. Of course I had seen the work he'd done, and I was bowled over that someone who'd shot Gladiator would even consider working with a first time feature director. But John Mathieson t loved the script and when I talked about wanting to partly enhance its modernity by shooting in a fairly modern documentary style John Hurt was quite blunt about it and said, "look, that modern documentary style for me characterises the worst 10 years of British cinematography in history; I think you should have a rethink". I realised he clearly had his own mind and I liked what that brought out in me because it forced me to delve deeper and rethink my strategy. And what John Mathieson provided us with is a piece of classical cinematography and a real understanding of what noir means'.
John Mathieson is renowned for his knowledge of film noir, although Rowan Joffe will happily admit the more he reads about the genre, the more confused he gets. When he expressed a wish for Brighton Rock to have a similar feel to his favourite crime thriller, Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Cercle Rouge, Mathieson did his utmost to deliver. 'I tried to come up with a way of making our movie feel like it was shot in the way that Melville shot that movie and with the equipment Melville shot the movie with, so thanks to John we got hold of a complete set of 1960's lenses and used those. I knew when we went for a lens test that I was going to get a crush on these lenses because they were called the crystal express. I was like, wow, how can you not love a lens called the crystal express!'.
But the method was not without some tweaks. Because they needed the film to be shot anamorphic, the team at Panavision actually made John Mathieson a lens. 'They sawed two lenses in half', Rowan Joffe recalls, 'and they made it, tested it and sent it to us. The lens was so huge it had to be carried out of the box by two men on a special metal handle that gets screwed in to the top of the lens. I couldn't believe it when I first saw it but that kind of clunkiness with the old equipment in some ways restricts your camera moves and makes you think about them more carefully; it means you are more strategic and economical in your decision making'.
Rowan Joffe and production designer James Merifield worked closely together on the look of the film in terms of set design and locations to further complement the noir feel of the cinematography. As James Merifield explains, 'We went for a very dark look, but not in a monochromatic fashion, more where if you compare the vibrant colours of the pier, that all the other colours for the interiors etc were bleached and washed out versions of those tones, but still with an undercurrent of those primary colours embedded within. The most important thing to me is that it feels as real and authentic as possible. I wanted the design to be deeply embedded in the storytelling'. Where locations were concerned, Brighton was unfortunately not an option for the Pier scenes so a substitute had to be found. 'The choice to go to Eastbourne to shoot all the pier stuff was really thrust upon us,' says Webster, 'because it was so difficult practically to work in Brighton. It's such a busy modern place and the pier itself has been entirely modernised. So it was a no brainer once we saw Eastbourne really, which has a pier and a sea front which is entirely in period. Of course, there was a little bit of anxiety. Are we betraying the truth of the project? But let's face it, films get made wherever they need to get made and nobody worries that Trainspotting is set in Edinburgh but was shot principally in Glasgow!'
As Andrea Riseborough found, working in Eastbourne was very helpful in getting a feel for the era and environment and re-creating the heat of what Brighton was like at that time.
'Being part of the recreation of the heat in Brighton at the time was amazing. On set when we had the Mods and the Rockers, some of them were the real thing and they were brilliant. Rowan Joffe had a megaphone and was telling them to start the chant and as soon as he started they took over and as soon as that happened the rockers started their chant, then basically he just started filming. It was wonderful and meant it was an easy transition to that world, it really felt like being there. Eastbourne has a wonderful antiquated feel to it; it's kind of untouched.'
With both design and locations there was huge attention to detail, from the deckchairs on the pier to the props in the gang's headquarters. Rowan Joffe explains, 'we knew we wanted the gang to be a bit down at heel and their headquarters to be the noir spine of the film, so everything is dingy, nicotine stained browns and blacks and peeling wall paper. Also you can see behind the payphone that Spicer makes his phone calls on, which was a wonderful touch by James Merifield, there's a handicap charity box which is in the shape of a little kid with polio which was very popular even when I was growing up as a kid which is a long time after the 60's. So it was obviously stolen by some gang member. They're an incredibly unglamorous gang.'
For Costume Designer Julian Day (Control, Nowhere Boy, My Summer of Love) the idea was very specific for each area and he designed the clothes around three different looks. 'There's above the pier, below the pier and then the hotel where Colleoni resides.' Julian Day explains. 'What I've gone for above the pier is a mid to late 50's look rather than high 1960's fashions. The colours are browns, maroons and greens, very autumnal colours with patterns. Below the pier is much more like gangster spivs. Black, blue and white almost like the stark David Bailey's photograph of the Kray Twins. The hotel has much more of a 60's look with the blacks, reds and creams with no patterns; it's very geometric.'
Of course there are crossovers with the looks and various times where characters from one world enter another. 'When Pinkie goes to visit Colleoni in the hotel he takes his 1950s-ness into the hotel. He's got a brown mac on, a green checked suit and dirty shoes and walks into this plush hotel with a white carpet. So he not only looks different but his whole surroundings are completely alien to what he's used to being in.' There is another element with the Mods who were the youth culture of the 60's and the Rockers who belonged to the 50's and who had a very specific almost uniformed look in black and white, where as the Mods' was something totally new and fresh. 'What I went for was more punchy colours, reds and bright blues, oranges and yellows', Day explains. 'So, in a sense youth was represented by colour, and old Brighton was represented by these brown shades and greens. It was all about the decay and old civilisations and then the new which was very graphic and bold. That was how I wanted to differentiate these worlds.'
Julian Day also wanted to show the significant changes Pinkie goes through on his journey throughout the film. 'The suit we see him in first is almost a hand-me-down from his boss. It's very 1950s with the long line jacket, and trousers with pleats. Then he changes when he realises he's got to fit into a different world with the Mods and the gangsters. For this he has a very 60's orientated blue tonic suit which is very sharp with pointed shoes.' For Rose it was also important to show her transformation process in the film from dowdy waitress to gangster's moll. 'She starts off as one thing and then changes into another. She lives with her father, and we never see her mum, so it's almost like she's wearing her mother's old clothes and as a result all her clothes seem too big for her. She goes to work for Ida and puts on this waitress outfit which is a bit tighter than she's used to but hidden under an apron and she's still got her glasses on. Then as the film develops, her sexuality grows and she blossoms to the point where towards the end of the film she finds this money that Pinkie has and goes off shopping and finds a Mary Quant dress in a shop window.
Then for the final scene with the hero/anti-hero Pinkie is in blue and Rose the heroine is in pink. Boys are blue and girls are pink. It's very literal but it works I think.' Dressing Helen Mirren was a dream for Day as he explains. 'I wanted the character of Ida to look very sexy, so obviously when Helen Mirren was cast that was quite easy. I just wanted to see her as this alluring woman who captivated men with cleavage and very tight fitting pencil skirts. She's also one of the people who regularly cross between the worlds so he used a very specific device for signifying this. 'She wears a red coat, and a white coat. So she mixes between the two worlds. She is representative of all of that. The sex, the violence, the new world, the old world, but ultimately, the aim was for her to just look sexy really, which was good fun to do.'
Hair and Make up designer Ivana Primorac (Atonement, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, The Hours), weaved her legendary magic to complete Helen Mirren's striking look for Ida. 'Myself and Helen Mirren agreed what she should be like and looked at women we admired from the period', explains Ivana Primorac. 'We knew her hair should be dyed but not look too harsh, she should look as if she's had a history and been through a lot in her life. How she plays it and her whole look makes you wonder about her past'. For Rose on the other hand, subtlety was very much the key as Ivana Primorac describes. 'We used every tool available, albeit fairly invisible ones, to make her journey from dowdy girl to gangster moll. I wanted to make the changes noticeable but not too obvious so I gave her natural coloured eyelashes so her eyes looked a bit different. The fantastic thing about Andrea Riseborough is the way she holds herself, her eyes change and she can just become slightly more sophisticated, which was perfect.'
Pinkie's looks on the other hand changed a little more dramatically. 'I wanted to help Sam Riley along in 'becoming' Pinkie. He could look very sweet and vulnerable very easily so we chose something that would immediately look more edgy and nasty. By slicking his hair back it really changes him; he's not so sweet. He's also one of those actors who can really turn it on so it became his thing to get his comb out and slick back his hair.'
As well as bringing his characters to life aesthetically, Rowan Joffe gave much consideration as to how they would be accompanied musically. Chosen by Rowan Joffe after his collaboration with him on The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall, composer Martin Phipps was a natural choice to score Brighton Rock. 'I knew I wanted to work with him again so in a sense we had been evolving ideas about Brighton Rock or at least emailing each other about it for about two years', explains Rowan Joffe. 'Our biggest turning point was deciding that we were going to score it noir, which meant not just a big score or a big orchestra but music that is really tailored to narrative turning points. Not just key turning points but really subtle moments within a scene. So Martin has written a score where the key in which the brass section is playing will change on the slightest alteration in an actor's demeanour. That's why you find noir scores are often quite busy.'
There are even specific themes within the score for characters like Pinkie, Rowan Joffe explains. 'Pinkie's theme has got the simplicity and period British thriller feel of Get Carter, very low key, slightly melancholy and very simple. It does ha