★★, Reviews
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The Riot Club

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  • Directed by: Lone Scherfig
  • With: Sam Claflin, Max Irons and Douglas Booth
  • 107 Minutes

I must admit that there’s something interesting about combining Dead Poets Society with parties and romance and The Riot Club does it with style. But, while the substance in the dialogues is a clear positive point, the movie lost me in some moments and that caused a tremendous impact in my analysis. Starring Natalie Dormer, Douglas Booth and Sam Claflin as students at Oxford University, this movie takes advantage of some of the talented actors that are part of The Hunger Games trilogy and tries to teach a lesson about humility and power while a group of crazy and aristocratic boys is having the dinner party of their lives. Prepare yourselves for a world in which Dead Poets Society met Project X and in which the respected Oxford students are about to reveal themselves in a shameless and crazy journey. Directed by Lone Scherfig, The Riot Club will make you remember of your college years for sure.

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A group of influent and powerful students of Oxford University watches a friend being murdered after being discovered in the middle of a love affair and this tragic event marks the establishment of a group of friends in which only the best of the best, according to their criteria, were allowed to enter. A group of people decided to party as much as they could and to live the life without limits… Ladies and gentlemen, the Riot Club was born. Several years later, the tradition was still on at Oxford and, in the beginning of the semester, the current members of the club were waiting for possible candidates to join their “journey”. Alistair and Miles were two freshmen ready to travel through classes and exams in the prestigious university of Oxford and their first days went pretty well, at least for Miles. Even though they both had aristocratic connections, Miles was friendlier and that allowed him to become more intimate with a really cool and beautiful girl named Lauren that was more interested in keeping a low profile and was working really hard to pay her expenses. While Miles and Lauren are becoming closer, Alistair aspired to follow his uncle’s footsteps. Suddenly both of them are invited to be members of the “prestigious” Riot Club and while Miles only wanted to have some fun, Alistair was really dedicate to become more influent in the group. Without listening to Lauren’s advice, Miles decides to give the group a try and he accepts the invitation to one of the club’s dinner parties. The dinner took place in a country pub whose owner was unfamiliar with the stories of their rowdy behavior. The dinner starts well but all of a sudden, after a couple of drinks, Alistair decides to screw Miles by sending a message to Lauren in order to destroy their relationship without realizing that his revenge was going to become the trigger of a crazy night filled with alcohol, violence, drugs that has serious potential to end badly…

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I know that I told most of the story and for that I must apologize but in order to tell you my opinion in the best way possible this had to be done. First of all, the acting in The Riot Club is good enough to keep you interested in the movie. Lauren, as Miles girlfriend, plays a really important role in a movie since she is the one who is constantly advising him of what it’s best for him to do. She’s kind, sweet and a bit geeky but it’s super easy to fell in love with her attitude during the movie because she’s the first symbol of humility and consciousness appearing in it. Most of the members of the group are spoiled guys who always had what they want due to their families’ power and influence in the society. They cared about their studies but they preferred to throw gigantic and exaggerated parties and to live their life without any kind of limits. They followed the Carpe Diem way of living too literally and they show their ignorance towards the rest of the world in their comments. It’s a bit like rich kids commenting how pathetic in their minds poor people are without realizing that they were the poor ones in spirit and in character. Alistair, the guy who aspires to follow his uncle’s footsteps, is more conscious regarding the world but after being accepted into the group he becomes a totally different person… Hideous and more annoying that the other guys in the club, Alistair was the closest thing to a mean character in the story. His beliefs and actions were often supported by the elements of the club. At last but not the least, there’s Miles, a more complex character that demands some attention because it’s hard to define his attitudes in terms of good/bad. At the beginning he reveals signs of being a really cool guy who is just trying to make friends. He falls in love quickly with Lauren and they’re like this really cool and great couple that you want to last forever but, after the invitation for the Riot Club, his personality changes a bit and even though he continues to respect her and wanting to have fun, he becomes blind to the fact that those guys were not friends of him and that they were just inviting him because they saw him as someone who had what it takes. But when he realizes that his new personality and his bad actions related with the club meetings were messing with his relationship with Lauren, he stops behaving like a spoiled guy and starts acting with more responsibility even though everything in is life is falling apart.

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With interesting characters and a good approach to the thoughts of the influent and powerful people who often rule the world, The Riot Club could work as a huge essay on the lack of humility and the power of money in the eyes of the young generations. The movie starts in a great way, with a cool and fun attitude that loses strength in the middle of the exaggeration of the second act of the movie. Until the party, everything is interesting and natural, the relations between the characters are developed in a slow pace and it’s funny to watch the way everyone interacts but, as soon as the action is centered in the dinner party, everything became too unnatural and stopped working for me. I know they were rich kids and that they wanted to have a crazy night with drinks and drugs but if there weren’t any commentaries regarding political issues the party would seem like a spin-off of Project X with spoiled and rich kids. The finale is tragic and shocking in a way because as always, power and influence win and the rich people end up not suffering from the consequences of their actions. The major problem of the movie, in my opinion is the fact that I lost my interest almost completely during the second act of the movie simply because there was almost nothing to grab my attention and because everything seemed a bit messy.

Overall, I could say that if you’re in the right mood The Riot Club is capable of pleasing you with its style and essence. It’s true that story is no big deal but the content and the characters are quite good which allows me to say that I think it’s okay for you to give it a shot. Most of the things worked and if the act two were a bit better I could possibly give this movie a high rating for the life lesson it tried to be. Instead of being just one of those high-school/college movies in which guys who party too much learn that they can’t keep their lifestyle if they want to fight for a better future, The Riot Club shows a different side of the coin, closest to reality, in which power, money and influence rule the world and there’s nothing you can do to change that. Messy, funny and unfortunately a bit exaggerated, The Riot Club has something to say and it deserves to be heard.

★★½

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