As the wise man said, the English people seem to need their 'periodic fits of morality', and the producers of this film (HanWay/Blueprint Pictures) have provided a feature-length morality tale that is calculated to bring righteous indignation to the boil.
At Oxford University, a long-established elite club is about to hold one of its notorious dinners, with all restraints thrown to the wind, and wholehearted debauchery expected of every member. The appeal of the film is that this micro-freemasonry of just ten young men is out to attack everyone who falls below its own (self-awarded) Premier Division status, and there is even some internal feuding, so the number of people wanting to empty a bucket over the spoilt brats could add up to quite a big audience.
The opening sequence is a full-costume cameo of the club's 18th century origins, when blasphemy was a big part of the thrill. Today's equivalent is to slag-off socialism (the orthodox religion of college life), and the excoriating of prole and bourgeois fills-out much of the dialogue, duly spiced with offensive language. We are looking at the Cavalier spirit, all swagger and vandalism, supposedly made acceptable by the feudal habit of paying for damage cash-down.
Knowing that Oxford's hotels and restaurants have long since banned them, they settle for a village pub, where a decent, popular manager Chris and his glamorous daughter (recognisable from Downton Abbey) reluctantly risk accommodating them in exchange for the financial inducement.
The grand banquet is supposed to mirror all the seven sins and more, with an escort-girl summoned for a group-session under the table, which she refuses. One of the less-horrible characters sends for his girlfriend to relieve the all-male atmosphere, but by the time she arrives, they're all drunk and drugged, and she's offered £27,000 (instantly transferable by i-phone) to perform the act instead. "We've got the finest sperm in the country" she is reminded, but just turns on her heel, and never wants to speak to any of them again. Dissatisfied, they set about trashing the room, offering to pay Chris in the standard way. When he refuses their money, they beat him almost to death (just a bit too 18th-century, this touch). At the police inquiry, one of them agrees to take the blame, to enable the other nine to stay at the university. He is expelled, only to find himself eased into a job in London's square mile. The final image is of his self-satisfied smirk.
You may or may not choose to accept "Debauchery raised to an art, almost spiritual" as their attempt to dignify the whole mess. This is simply a story of excessive entitlement, where it is the Oxford spires that set-off the anger, possibly the envy, and concentrate the blame. The Clermont Set of the 70's (Goldsmith, Lucan) was just as elitist, but caused amusement, rather than outrage. Soon afterwards, the Punk artists were trashing hotel-rooms as a mailed fist against capitalism; if you'd never trashed a room, you were nothing. Meanwhile many third-world dictators have sons of student-age who behave twenty times worse, without attracting the same venom.
As usual with college films, the students are acted by people about ten years too old, and they struggle a bit to achieve the casual, disjointed speech of that particular age-group, often interrupted by random quiz-questions, as though they were on University Challenge. But one of them managed to sum-up their whole agenda in a few well-chosen words: "To eat at the full table of life."
The Riot Club
Action / Drama / Thriller
The Riot Club
Action / Drama / Thriller
SPOILER: Alistair and Miles, both with aristocratic connections, start their first year at Oxford University though they are very different, Miles is down to earth and happy to have a girlfriend, Lauren, from a lower background whilst Alistair is a snob with aspirations to follow his uncle, a Tory MP. The common bond is that both become members of the Riot Club, a long established elite drinking club priding itself on hedonism and the belief that money can buy anything. Having been barred from most establishments in Oxford they have their annual dinner at the function room in a country pub, where their rowdy behavior angers other patrons though they reimburse Chris, the landlord. They hire a prostitute but she refuses to perform group sex, then one of them rings Lauren, whom they importune to Max's horror. Getting progressively more drunk and ingesting drugs they start to trash the room and, when Chris comes to complain, Alistair savagely assaults him, landing him in hospital. Though ...
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January 20, 2015 at 01:51 AM