Founded in approximately 1780, the Bullingdon Club were notorious for booking out a restaurant, trashing it beyond recognition and handing the owner a cheque for the damages on the way out. The unofficial club, which still exists today, consists of a select group of male elites at Oxford University and is the inspiration behind the latest cinema release, “The Riot Club”.
The Riot Club begins with the group looking to recruit two new starters, as Alistair (Sam Claflin) and Miles (Max Irons) emerge as possible candidates. However, over the course of a single evening, the club’s reputation is put on the line.
The film itself is very much an emotional rollercoaster. Initially, there are plenty of laughs to be had, mostly executed through witty one-liners, though it becomes a lot darker with some shocking scenes that make for extremely uncomfortable viewing. It’s the latter which highlights the film’s superb acting, as the young cast give genuinely convincing performances. Holliday Grainger, who plays Lauren – Miles’ love interest, particularly stands out here.
Playwright Laura Wade adapted the film from her own play “Posh”, and it clearly shows, as a large portion of the film is based at the table in the restaurant. While it comes as a slight disappointment that The Riot Club doesn’t stray too far from its theatrical origins, it does seem to work in the film’s favour, adding to the suspense before the highly dramatic climax.
Wade unsubtly incorporates a number of themes in The Riot Club that are reflective of the society we live in, including the inherited privilege and power culture in the country. There’s also a lot of political satire, which comes as no surprise considering some of The Bullingdon Club’s ex-members include the current British Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Mayor of London Boris Johnson.