'The Riot Club' is a 2014 British film centering around the activities of an elite group of males from Oxford University. Based upon the original stage play 'Posh', by Laura Wade, the film stars British heart-throbs Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games, The Quiet Ones), Max Irons (The Host, The White Queen), and Douglas Booth (Noah, Romeo and Juliet - and every fancasting for every Young Adult book ever written).
First things first, the title of this film exists as a foreshadowing tool, letting you know exactly what to expect, as does the name of the original play.
Right off the bat, the movie makes it glaringly obvious that our protaganists, the aforementioned heart-throbs, are pretenciously posh, undeniably privileged, twats. Yes, you read that correctly. The characters within this film, the middle class/upper class members of 'The Riot Club', are complete and utter twats, and the movie doesn't want you to, even for a second, forget that. There's no pretence here , the movie doesn't try to make you like these characters - with the exception of Max Irons' character who appears to be the only character who hasn't got his head wedged firmly up his own arse - and from the get-go, shows you that 'The Riot Club' is an excuse for rich, spoiled twats to do anything they could possibly want to, whilst in the safety and confinements off the club.
The original play and by extension the movie, are essentially a theatrical version of the well-known "Bullingdon Club" - the real life riot club, also formed at Oxford University, was and is well known for its terrible reputation. Trashing restaurants and public places, and offering large amounts of cash to owners to keep them quiet, the "Bullingdon Club" - who's ex members include current UK Priminister David Cameron and London Mayor, Boris Johnson - is a prime example of the privilege that rich, white, middle/upper class families experience, use and abuse.
The movie does a somewhat dramatic job of showing the difference in status between the illustrious students at Oxford whose entire families are alumni, and the normal, working class students who got in probably as part of Oxford's statistics so they don't seem elitest.
Bubbly Northener, Lauren, is painted almost as an entirely different species as she embarks on a short fueled romance with Max Iron's Miles character. There are two main scenes that illustrate this, one - when she is in a pub and one of the movies resident Posho's makes what is very clearly his favourite joke of all time which essentially illudes to Bristol University not being a very good one - Lauren then tentatively informs him that her best mate attends Bristol. There's also a scene in which Miles' (Iron's character) room is trashed, and clearly horrified she asks him what happened, to which he - with a smile on his face - replied that he got "in" (meaning into 'The Riot Club'). When she looks at him questioningly, he suggests that she's jealous because she can't get in. He probably meant more so because it's an all male club and not because she's working class, but the undertones were there, and therin lies the second jab at the difference in class.
The problem with this movie isn't its subject matter - which all in all is rather interesting - it's how it's approached. It takes a rather satricial view on quite a controversial topic, and in place of actual character development and depth, presents you with a bunch of characters lacking any real substance, that you immediately hate from the very beginning and henceforth, feel no sympathy for when problems arise. Its talented young cast do a brilliant job at playing these surface characters, but with little written on their individual personalities, each actor is essentially playing the same character. The part of an arrogant, over privileged young University student.
The only character written with any depth is Max Iron's 'Miles', - probably because the character was educated in Westminster - a working class area in London - as opposed to the Eton educated boys in 'The Riot Club'.
What initially looked like an interesting film, failed to satisfy, as the entire climax of the movie takes place in one long and ardous scene in which the boys get more and more drunk. It's not hard to predict the outcome of events - sexual assault, GBH (Grevious Bodily Harm), Vandilism and general hooligan-like behaviour - resulting in police arrests and a permanent exclusion from the University for one the boys.
It's all rather predicatable, and had it not been for its talented young cast, would've failed completely. This movie managed to make me simulataneously hate Sam Claflin and Douglas Booth (in theory, I still love them) which is a hard feat to do, as both actors are lovely. Claflin's angst ridden, politically right Posh-o is probably the movie's most horrible character - the spearhead for all the trouble that follows, despite his shaky beginning painting him as a slightly quieter character. Booth's character is as arrogant and pretentious as they come, encouraging all forms of bad behaviour.
What could've been a brilliant movie, showcasing and highlighting a controversial topic, in a theatrical manner, turned out to be a lacklustre alcohol fest - saved in part, only by its cast.
All in all 'The Riot Club' get's a mediocre 5/10 stars. Whilst it is by no means a bad movie, it's not the brilliant masterpiece that it could've been, and in lacking any real substance, isolates its audience from the characters and overall plot.