Entertainment, News

“They All Look The Same” – The Riot Club film review

0 539

The Riot Club Movie Poster

If anything I went into this film excited. I’ve not seen the play Posh, upon which the film is based, but knowing of the plot I was interested to see how it would translate onto the screen. The thing is though, cinema is a completely different beast to stage plays. Stage plays are grounded in dialogue and a closed space, whilst cinema is able to manipulate its audience by the images that it shows. Yet both have to grapple with something; they have to have something to say. All good art has to have something to say.

To me, The Riot Club failed to understand what it wanted to say.

The film revolves around ten Oxford undergraduates who are part of a Bullingdon Club under another name, who drink and get high and destroy everything in sight. In order for this kind of film to work, there has to be a sympathetic way into this world which the audience can get on board with. So it remains to be seen why the film started with a prologue about where the Riot Club got its name from, because frankly I don’t care about the name of the club. I didn’t go to see the film for that. After the prologue comes the protagonist, Miles, who is self admittedly posh and wants to get into the Riot Club because of plot contrivances, which is supposed to be our way in but I was never sympathetic to him in the first place.

So as I began to get really bored, we meet the other characters, three of whom I forget, but there is Finnick from The Hunger Games 2, Douglas Booth, the protagonist, the gay kid, the Greek kid, the president of the club and that awkward prospective boyfriend from An Education. The film isn’t big on names, which is one of my biggest problems with the film: the characters are so vastly drawn that they merge into each other. So when a character at the end of the film says “they all look the same”, I agreed.

Beyond that, the script isn’t terrible, but I have to say it is not how these people talk. These people do not exist. I grew up in Oxford and that kind of person does dress in corduroy jackets and trousers. The Bullingdon Club do take over bars, trash the place, buy the most expensive bottles of port and sing Nazi propaganda songs, but I am not the only person who knows this. I have known several people who grew up in that environment and I can safely say that they don’t talk the way that the screenwriter and playwright Laura Wade believe that they do, because they talk in code. They talk in a way that implies poor people, without ever actually saying poor people, because they are a lot smarter than Wade gives them credit for. Despite this Wade insists on crow-barring in the infamous ‘I really f******* hate poor people’ line and has the character yell it at the top of his lungs, as a rallying call for the rest to rip wallpaper down.

In pockets, the film has its moments. I thought that it could turn into something interesting, for example, when a character implies that a Greek couldn’t be President of the club because of his nationality. Even at the interview for Oxford when Finnick says “I just want to create something for myself and start from the ground up… in corporate finance” which plays into something larger that the film doesn’t want to talk about. The film ignores how difficult it can be to grow up in an environment that expects you to behave a specific way and go into the family business of wearing corduroy, hunting and cooperate finance. There is no escape from that and the film wants to paint these people as borderline monsters, but there’s a problem in that. If the film engages with its audience then weirdly it makes the audience agree with their behaviour, if you don’t you’ll be bored.

All in all, a combination of a lack of understanding of how to engage an audience and bland-as-muesli characters left me genuinely thinking, “They all look the same”. I wanted 12 Angry Men and I got 10 clichéd posh boys.

Sojourner McKenzie is starting her second year of an English and Film degree and spends most of her time ranting at no-one in particular about everything. Follow her on Twitter @runsojrun

About the author / 


aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More News Stories:

  • Opinion: “Our real legacy at university is the friends we make along the way”

    We all prioritise different things in life: our relationships, academic achievement, and financial success. While these can be great catalysts for short and long-term goals, making us resilient,  fixating on these goals can become overwhelming, even detrimental. Focusing on what we feel we have to achieve can make it easy to lose sight of the…

  • Reading and Leeds Festival 2024: The best bands to see this year

    Featured image: Georgina Hurdsfield Overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of choice on offer at this year’s Reading and Leeds Festival? Don’t worry, we’ve got you. We’ve trawled the lineups to bring you a cluster of acts to watch on the August bank holiday weekend. From jungle to riotous punk, there’s a bounty of brilliant bands…

  • Film Review: The Idea of You – A sappy feel-good rom-com

    Featured image: PA Media In this sappy, heart-warming rom-com, two lovers meet at Coachella as Solène (Anne Hathaway) takes her daughter to a meet and greet at the Californian music festival. Known for her iconic roles in The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and The Princess Diaries (2001), Hathaway plays the role of a 40-year-old divorcee…

  • Travel: Tips for multi-country trips abroad while keeping your bank account happy

    Featured image: Georgia Pearson The summer break from university is approaching and conversations about travel plans can be heard across campus. But with the cost of living at a high, students and young people are looking for cheaper ways to travel this summer. Travelling to multiple countries during one trip can be a budget-friendly way…