Appearances are deceptive. When I saw the poster of this movie a year back, the tail suits worn by the lead actors, unknown faces for me, gave an impression of a period drama. Although there were posters splashed across the city, the design did not generate any curiosity. Hence it is one of those British films which gets overshadowed by what the cousin across the Atlantic ocean has to offer. There are two things that you need to know before you even rent or stream this movie. This film is an adaptation of the play "Posh" by Laura Wade. The second is the Bullingdon Club, an exclusive unofficial all-male student dining club based in Oxford. The Riot Club is a fictionalized version of the Bullingdon Club.
The Riot Club was formed after the death of Lord Riot, a hedonist. There are ten members, selected by invitation from the existing members. The story opens up in the present time where Alistair(Sam Claflin) and Miles (Max Irons) joins Oxford. Both of them have diametrically opposite personalities, and they are inducted into the Riot Club. During the annual party of the club in a nearby country pub, things get out of control. When we come together as a group, our morals and principles become diluted. The popular belief is a group acts better than an individual. However, we have often seen the opposite. The film explores this theme as the annual party of the Riot Club shows how a group can get corrupted without any remorse. The members of the Riot Club are wealthy and belongs to the upper class. The class divide and the contempt of the less privileged are the other themes explored in the movie. Sometimes it is also dangerous to sit on the sidelines and not make your point. Miles learns it too late.
The movie has to depend on performances and not on expensive CGI. The director Lone Scherfig uses the authentic location. You cannot miss Oxford in the film. She has shot inside the colleges and also on some of the easily recognizable areas in Oxford. Even the country pub is an authentic location. Of the performance, Sam Claflin stands out because he is the bad boy of the group. After seeing him playing a cute boy in many movies, it is refreshing to see him as a manipulator. He starts as an insecure student and goes on to become a wicked man. Although the transformation is abrupt, the performance is distinctly clear.
The Riot Club honors hedonism. So you cannot watch it with the kids. However, as adults, this is a must watch because the movie is questioning us. It might be the beast in some and the weaknesses in the rest of us.