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Competition “Brighton Rock” Interview with Rowan Joffe (Director) (10/29)

Competition “Brighton Rock” Interview with Rowan Joffe (Director) (10/29)

“Brighton Rock” marks the directorial debut of Rowan Joffe, who has been a successful screenwriter, who wrote screenplays for “28 Weeks Later” (2007) and “The American” (2010), a thriller starring George Clooney. The story was set towards the end of the 1930s in the original story by Graham Greene, but this is changed to 1964 in the film. A young and ambitious gangster, Pinkie, seduces Rose who holds evidence to the murder he committed. Rowan portrayed the relationship of the young couple from a unique viewpoint.
©2010 TIFF

---I interviewed your father, Roland Joffe, about 10 years go. Do you think your father had some influence on you to have gone into films?

In a way, he did. But I have become a director not because my father was a director. Because he was one, I did not want to become one so I wrote scripts. I carried on writing scripts for about 10 years, convinced that I was doing something different from my father. But then I started to feel it’s just not enough to have my scripts directed by someone else, that’s why I have become a director.

---The period is changed in the film from the end of the 1930s to 1964. You were born in 1972, so you didn’t experience the 1960s. What do you make out of the period?

I was not born then, but I was in touch with the sense of value and language from the 1960s because my parents lived through that period. For example, I suspect my mother was a feminist and my father was probably an active labour party member. So I was familiar with the 1960s and it was easy for me to imagine the period. When I finished writing the script, I had the lines proofread by Paul Webster, the producer, and Phil Daniels who starred in “Quadrophenia,” and got the all clear. Phil also appeared in the film.

---Pinkie in the original story is a virgin who despises sex. He is traumatised from witnessing his parents’ sex. What kind of a young man were you thinking for Pinkie when you changed the setting to the 1960s?

I don’t know if it’s a good thing or bad thing, but I don’t think witnessing parent’s sex traumatises children nowadays. I happened to see it myself, but I did not become a psychopath. So that wouldn’t be convincing enough, then I remembered the film, “The Beach.”
I love the original story by Alex Garland, but the film script starts with a line something like, “You don’t need to know anything about me apart from my name and that I am in Thailand.” Pinkie in this film is just like that. All the audience need to know is that he hates every person because he is fearful of every person. Hatred stems from fear; I thought that is more than sufficient. A large part of the society is based on the sense of fear.
©2010 TIFF

---Similarly to “Quadrophenia,” the film contains the confrontation between two groups of youths, which highlights pinkie’s particularity. They all rebel against the older generation, but other youths act in groups, while Pinkie remains alone all the time. He is more modern, and I think the director is expressing the modern times through him.

I’m glad you said that. He is “monomaniac”, which means the person is self-centred, unable to deal with others and rejects all relationships, unless he/she can make use of other people for his/her purposes. Pinkie is just like that, that’s why he doesn’t want to join a group. We are living in the paranoiac period. We have to take care, otherwise we might end up in a world like Pinkie’s.
©2010 TIFF

---Rose in the original story is described as an innocent Catholic girl. How did you characterise Rose in the film?

In the first film adaptation (1947), Rose was described simply as a victim or even as a saint because she faced up to unimaginable hardships. Because this film is set in the 1960s, she is portrayed as a more forthcoming person about her life. Pinkie goes to see her father and pays him some money to obtain his approval to marry Rose. In the previous scene, Pinkie asks Rose what she would achieve with it, and she replies, life. I am proud of this dialogue; it is not in the original story. She takes initiatives to carve out her life.

Rowan Joffe’s next work is already in the pipeline, it is a psychological suspense novel based on “Before I Go To Sleep” (to be published in 2011) by a new writer, S.J. Watson. It is being produced by Ridley Scott, who liked {Brighton Rock}. It would be interesting to see how Rosan Joffe cooks up psychological elements.

(Interviewed by Masaaki Oba)

Brighton Rock
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KEIRIN.JPThe 23rd Tokyo International Film Festival will be held with funds provided by Japan Keirin Association.TIFF History
22nd Tokyo International Film Festival(2009)