British film The Riot Club adapted from the play “Posh” by Laura Wade. It’s about a group of boys born to wealth and privilege, who attend Oxford University and are members of a secret society with only 10 members and a history spanning more than 10 decades. Down-to-earth Miles Richards (Max Irons) and pretentious Alistair Ryle (Sam Claflin) are first-year students, vying to join the exclusive club. Alistaire, whose brother is considered a legendary member of the club, is almost immediately at odds with Miles. Their polar opposite views exemplify the class struggle that is the epicenter of the film.
We’ve heard of organizations similar to The Riot Club, which some believe is loosely based on the real life Bullingdon Club. Secret societies that are the playground for the offspring of aristocracy, who hope – if not guaranteed – that they will one day rule as prestigious politicians and businessmen. Being accepted into one of these covert clubs is seen as a sign of status and acceptance into these elite circles.
As the first-year students soon learn, having membership in the secret club has its price. Limited to 10 members and founded more than 100 years ago, the young men in the club celebrate the debauchery of its founding members, one of which – the founder Lord Riot – was murdered by a man after being caught sleeping with his wife. Notorious for raucous get-togethers and hedonistic antics, the behavior is revered as almost a right of passage, to some members.
“The Riot Club” is an entertaining, yet redundant look at how privilege can spoil youth, who through tradition have come to believe that entitled behavior is their right. Like many films and TV shows before it, the overall premise of “The Riot Club” involves exclusive cliques, elitist behavior, and a divisive class system. Think “Gossip Girl” gone Brit, with no filter. It showcases the wealthy’s underlying hatred for the poor and the poor’s disdain for the self-entitlement of the rich.
“The Riot Club” is showing in select cities in the US. If you are in the Valley, catch it at the Film Bar through April 9th.