Review: The Riot Club

Director: Lone Scherfig 
Cast: Max Irons, Douglas Booth, Sam Claflin, Holliday Grainger

The Riot Club was adapted to screen from Laura Wade’s 2010 offering for the stage, ‘Posh’, and follows two aristocratic students, Miles (Max Irons) and Alistair (Sam Claflin) as they navigate their first year at Oxford University.
The film could have been a voyeuristic romp or it could have been a dark and gritty exposé, but in trying to do both it achieves neither – a disappointing compromise by director Lone Scherfig (One Day, An Education).

Elements that would have suited the stage translate clumsily with the characters obvious and 2-dimensional, and all sense of nuance lost. Opportunities to examine the pressures placed on the aristocracy by their positions and the expectations of their peers – something the film is beautifully set up to do – are touched upon and quickly forgotten. Any social commentary that could be made about our class-system and its place in modern Britain is largely ignored, aside from being used as a plot device to rouse the main characters into losing their shit in an unwieldy climax. The film nearly becomes interesting as the fallout of their transgressions is explored in a scene reminiscent of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, but loses momentum as we are finally let in on the big secret; rich people can do whatever they fuck they want.

Originally published in Crack Magazine

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