The Riot Club

Joffrey Baratheon. Agent Smith. Lord Voldemort. The Terminator. The thing all these people have in common is that they’re villains. Not just villains, but great villains. And the thing that makes them these evildoers so great is that we all love to hate them. They’re despicable, tough, unfaltering and all of those things are brilliant, especially since we’re supposed to feel all of those things.

Someone should have passed on a few pointers on how to make the audience feel these things for characters they aren’t supposed to like to The Riot Club. It’s a film where 95% of the characters are supposed to be unlikable, and unlikable they certainly are, but you won’t love hating them; you’ll just detest them. None of ten members of The Riot Club showed any redeeming features, any charm or any selflessness. I spent the whole time wanting to punch the cast for thinking that it was okay to portray such a character.


Based on Laura Wade’s stage show Posh, The Riot Club gives us a look at how “the other half” live. Excess, finery and an endless amount of money and privilege, and more than just a sprinkling of debauchery. At Oxford University there is a secret organisation; The Riot Club. Membership to The Riot Club is only gained through impeccable education and, as club president Leighton tells us “the ability to become a fucking legend.” Established in the 18th century as a way of honouring one such legend, the club is all about going as far as possible and being excessive. In the years since its inception, The Riot Club has toned down somewhat to pretty much be an exclusive club featuring only the elitest of the elite. This year, though, one of their new members takes them back to the days of old; of the rich lording it over the working class and loving every minute of it.


It’s honestly not possible to believe that people like this exist in the modern world. Sure there are those who think they’re better and superior, but not like this. The vast majority of the people who pay to go and see The Riot Club will be exactly the sort of people victimised and spat on in the film. The reason we go the cinema is to escape reality and lose ourselves for a couple of hours, so the last thing anyone wants to watch is a stark reminder that we aren’t all rich, drink the finest whiskey and drive an Aston Martin. No sympathy or empathy will be extended to anyone on screen, and this just removes the audience completely.


Coming from a film making background, I sometimes wonder how films like this were ever considered a good idea, and get frustrated that it has made it to the big screen when there are so many more much worthy pieces that will sadly go over looked and that’s a tragedy, but that’s also just the way the industry works. For every Shawshank Redemption, there are dozens of Riot Clubs unfortunately.

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