The surprise is… there is no surprise

Monday October 25th 2010

The London Film Festival’s Surprise Film had a lot to prove this year. After two massive successes with No Country for Old Men and The Wrestler (no one seems to remember what came before that – did this festival actually exist before 2007?), last year’s selection of Capitalism: A Love Story was a massive disappointment.

Unfortunately, Hebron chose to ignore my advice and go with the film that LITERALLY EVERYONE thought it would be: Rowan Joffé’s Brighton Rock remake, starring next-big-thing Andrea Riseborough and last-big-thing Sam Riley. As several people pointed out on Twitter, it made the ‘surprise’ element of the night feel ever so slightly redundant.

It was an incredibly bad choice, not only because it was predictable, but also because it’s an innately bland film. There’s no way that anybody’s going to be showing off about having seen it, and let’s not pretend that that’s not the ENTIRE point of the Surprise Film in the first place. Judging by the number of people who dashed out of the cinema before the director Q&A, most people were already eager to forget the experience.

Riley is still failing to impress, Joffé seems reluctant to leave even the most subtle directorial mark on the film, and Helen Mirren and John Hurt clearly need to stop saying ‘yes’ to any old shit that may or may not save the British film industry.

All things considered, it’s unsurprising stuff.