Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Movie with Abe: The Riot Club

The Riot Club
Directed by Lone Scherfig
Released March 27, 2015

College can be a crazy time. No matter where you end up, there are always opportunities for mischief. Clubs compound this further by grouping together people with a shared purpose or mission and enabling them to bond together to achieve their goals. Often, such clubs have intense orientation processes that involve considerable hazing, and it’s hard for those who have gone through such an ordeal not to come through the experience a more vicious and uninhibited person. Films about this subject have ranged from “Old School” to “The Skulls,” and the latest is “The Riot Club,” a volatile dining club at Oxford University.

“The Riot Club” begins its fictional story way back at the founding of its organization, aggrandizing it immensely with an almost mythical beginning. In the present day, we meet a number of Oxford students, some who are veteran members of the club and others who set their sights on becoming members. The application process is arduous and unpredictable, and the only certainty is that prospective rioters will come out the other side transformed and unable to return to being the people they were before they desired to achieve elitist greatness.

Based on the 2010 play “Posh,” which itself is widely discussed to be a dramatization of the real-life Bullingdon Club, of which British Prime Minister David Cameron was a member, this film is decidedly a British production. It comes from director Lone Scherfig, who previously made “An Education,” “One Day,” and “Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself.” Her involvement and the casting of a number of English and Australian actors gives the film an added air of prestige and pompousness that setting it at Yale or Harvard would not. What its members are doing may be atrocious, but there is something inarguably elegant about it.

This story is one that takes some time to become invigorating, but once it gets there, it is impossible to turn back. It is midway through the film that it really takes off and the disregard its members have for the law and anyone they perceive to be lower than themselves is impressed upon the audience as a result of their unconscionable actions. There is an interesting story to be told here, but this is hardly the definitive social club tale. As a movie, it manages to become enthralling as it progresses, but the energy just isn’t there the whole time to make it truly vital.


No comments: