The Riot Club (Lone Scherfig, 2015)

Based on Laura Wade’s self-adapted stage play, The Riot Club spotlights ten insufferable Oxford elitists in the days leading up to an infamous annual dinner party. Having simultaneously recruited new members Alistair (Sam Claflin) and Miles () to round out their lot, the fledgling duo grapples with their distaste for one another amid a rigorous and booze-soaked inauguration. Come the night of the party, the assembled bunch imbibes as per usual until things escalate well out of control at the urging of one particularly bad egg.

Thanks to ham-fisted subjective familiarity, one’s enjoyment of The Riot Club is contingent upon your distaste for oppressive snobbery. Although I was and still am well aware of the film’s focus, “debauchery raised to an art” – an actual quote, mind you – isn’t nearly as artful as these self-righteous, silver spoon-sucking fuckers make it out to be. If you’ve seen one cast of reprehensible egotists get trashed and screw, your speculation pertaining to the presumed banality of the proceedings wouldn’t be far from reality.

Although singular enough in terms of legacy and sustained mantra, the titular club’s pre-dinner shenanigans are palpably lackluster and drawn-out as far as exposition goes. Alistair’s the firm asshole, Miles is the level-headed everyman along for the ride – we get it, shit will pop off at one point or another for dynamism’s sake. When it finally does, the mid-film transition from the expository to slow-burning morality play is too clumsy and thematically droll to leave an impact. Things just pick up too late in the game, and I for one lost interest prior to elementary-level ignorance in the form of social class-inspired ranting. In short, the wheels fall off before the wagon even hits the trail.

Handled with all the grace of a trainwreck, The Riot Club‘s deliberately painted portrait of its elitist assholes messing about in vintage attire is barely of considerable quality. The performers are captivating and convincing in their portrayals of these unfailingly deplorable individuals, however rudimentary social commentary peppering its latter act and a limp, conventionally tidy conclusion drag it all down considerably. It isn’t all bad, but to say my enjoyment of The Riot Club barely reached fruition would be the most polite way to summarize my sentiments.


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