Monday, 19 January 2015

The Riot Club (2014)

The Riot Club is a film designed to paint the upper-classes at their very worst. It's interesting, although far too simplistic at times, and it's one that should start some interesting conversations after the credits have rolled.

Max Irons plays Miles Richards, one of the new boys starting his time at Oxford University. He's a posh lad, but one with a good heart. That's shown by how quickly he develops a relationship with Lauren (Holliday Grainger), a girl who isn't from any of the big schools. When Miles is invited to join The Riot Club he thinks that he's about to make some good connections, occasionally drink to excess, and generally have some fun in between studies. He soon starts to view the club differently during a grand meal that shows the members at their very worst.

Written by Laura Wade, who adapts her play "Posh" for the big screen, The Riot Club isn't exactly predictable at every turn, but viewers are usually able to realise what's coming in the next few scenes. That's okay though, this is not a film wanting to surprise you. It's one that uses your possible perceptions and prejudices of "the 1%" to give you a slick thriller that reinforces everything you think they get up to anyway.

Director Lone Scherfig has been doing solid work for a good few years now (I highly recommend both Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself and An Education) and this is another success, even if it's lacking in comparison to many of her past works. The pacing is almost perfect, the mix of characters helps to make everything that bit more palatable, and the ending is . . . . . . well, you'll have to wait and see.

Irons is good as the lead. He's believably earnest, and easy to root for, even as he's drawn further and further towards a very bad place. Grainger is even more likable, thanks to her dismissal of the snobbery around her, and Jessica Brown Finlay and Natalie Dormer both do well in smaller, but no less crucial, roles. Tom Hollander makes an impact with only one or two scenes to work with, and the actual members of the riot club range from the unmemorable (Olly Alexander and one or two others) to the memorable-for-all-the-wrong-reasons (Douglas Booth and Sam Claflin). Despite the fact that some don't make as strong an impression, everyone feels just right in their respective roles.

There are times when the film tries to make the lifestyles of the rich and wannabe-infamous seem enticing, putting viewers in a place that allows the characters to almost speak directly to them when they claim that the have-nots are just jealous of their riches and accessories. That's the main area in which the film stumbles. When it aims just for slick thrills, however, it quickly gets back on track.


UK is the main market for the disc just now -

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The UK version can be bought here -

And American folks can buy it here -

As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

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