The brutish, beautiful men of The Riot Club will not fail to shock and horrify in this adaption of Laura Wade’s play Posh. The audience, initially captured and charmed by these young men, are gradually disillusioned, as their British snobbery and riotous games reach crescendo. We even find ourselves forgetting the wonderful moment when beautiful Douglas Booth, playing Harry Villiers, emerges from his fencing helmet.
Through this thinly disguised depiction of the Bullingdon Club of the University of Oxford, Lone Scherfig makes us question life at Oxford and, perhaps more importantly, the key members of parliament who were among its infamous ranks. (And here “key” means the Prime Minister.)
Scherfig makes us believe that posh and privileged equals cruel, and that some of these boys truly do have dark hearts. Alistair Ryle (Sam Claffin) arrives at Oxford hoping to surpass the standards set by his older brother, a past president of the Riot Club. He is an immediate contrast to the innately kind Miles Davis (Max Irons). Through a series of events, both these boys pass initiation into the club, and they find themselves at the annual Riot Club dinner party at a country pub. Here they plan to drink excessively, trash the dining room, and then proceed to pay for any damages with their parents’ money. It seems less impressive written down, but you really have to see the mess.
We see Miles’ moral struggle, which is intensified by his relationship with a state school girl. While Miles’ struggle grows, Alistair’s behaviour and jealousy intensifies alongside.
Their temper, pride, and arrogance cause many shocking scenes which lead to serious consequences. The Riot Club is a blatant attack against the culture of inherited wealth in Britain. Through the use of ridiculously attractive males with their ridiculously perfect cheekbones, however, it is obvious that the script is an extreme exaggeration of the reality. Despite this, the boys’ loathsome behaviour keeps our eyes fixed on the screen, and, on occasion, our jaws drop.