111 minutes| U.K.| 2010| Colour| D-Cinema

This new version of Graham Greene’s most famous novel updates the period to the 1964 era of Mods and Rockers and to a time also when the shadow of the death penalty still hung over the act of murder. Sam Riley is excellent as the tormented young hoodlum Pinkie, whose revenge killing of a gang rival precipitates his downfall. The revelation, however, is Andrea Riseborough, giving real poignancy and substance to the passive character of Rose, the waitress who could incriminate Pinkie and with whom he begins a doomed, even damned, affair. Helen Mirren sparkles also as the couple’s nemesis, seeking justice for the murdered man; and with an effectively urgent score and atmospheric photography reminiscent of the existential thrillers of Jean-Pierre Melville, there is much to savour here. The ‘miraculous’ ending might prove problematic for some: closer to Greene’s finale for the 1947 film than to his novel, and signifying either God’s mercy or cinematic convention, according to taste. An impressive directing debut, nonetheless. (Notes by Neil Sinyard).

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