“Riot Club” falls flat with unoriginal characters

Ethan Sapienza, Staff Writer

Lone Scherfig’s drama “The Riot Club” depicts first-year students at Oxford University joining an infamous, secretive club in an adaptation of the play “Posh” by Laura Wade. The film offers little insight or true analysis on its subject, essentially centering around British aristocracy and its many repulsive attributes.

The film follows Miles Richards (Max Irons) and Alistair Ryle (Sam Claflin), two first-year students at Oxford University, both of whom have long familial history at the prestigious school. Through Alistair’s older brother and Miles’ friend from his private school, they both get selected to join the legendary and exclusive Riot Club — a secret, century-old association where the 10 wealthiest and prettiest boys at Oxford University indulge in the most sinful of their desires. Unfortunately, with pursed lips and messy hairdos, the characters who belong to the Riot Club were indistinguishable, and looked fit more for a “Twilight” film than portraying real humans.

Most of the movie lays out Miles and Alistair’s initiation into the club, while hinting at how awful all of the members are. All of this leads up to a dinner at a pub, which encompasses most of the film’s hour and 45 minute runtime. The lengthy dinner drags, proving to be a poor cinematic adaptation of the play.

Throughout the initiation and dinner, Scherfig seems to think it is revolutionary to depict the affluent elite with contempt, but it is not. The film also attempts to humanize Miles, the supposed hero of “The Riot Club.” The bratty members and their behaviors disillusion him, though he rarely acts with morality, causing his character to be as unsympathetic as the rest of the interchangeable, spoiled students. Because “The Riot Club” adds nothing to the concept that elitists are awful and its main character is difficult to relate to, the film’s concept is utterly pointless.

Occasionally, the film possesses a few positive qualities, though they seem wasted more than anything. For instance, the direction and editing during cocaine-dusted sequences heighten the passage of time and convey a sense of agitation, though they are short-lived. Claflin does a wondrous job of turning Alistair into a sinister demon, despite the character being poorly thought-out and mistaking his handomeness for acting. Natalie Dormer of “Game of Thrones” makes her presence felt with a cameo — yet her time on the screen is far too short-lived. Another missed opportunity is Hugo (Sam Reid), an older member of the club who initially has an interesting homoerotic tension with Miles. The point ends up being overstated, however, with the film’s unoriginal and simple dialogue.

The conclusion lends no help to the quality of the film — in fact, it only worsens it. The ending of “Riot Club” only proves another obvious point: with enough money, you can get away with nearly anything. And clearly, with enough money and handsome actors, you can make whatever movie you would like to, regardless of how awful it may be.

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