Helen Mirren and Pete Postlethwaite have joined the cast of Rowan Joffe’s adaptation of Graham Greene’s 1939 classic Brighton Rock.

They join Sam Riley, who will play lead character Pinkie, and Andrea Riseborough, as his young wife Rose. Principal photography is expected to start on October 18 and it will shoot on location in Brighton and London.

The film, which is Joffe’s directorial debut, is being produced by Paul Webster for Kudos Pictures and marks the first major production investment by Optimum Releasing. It is being made in association with BBC Films and the UK Film Council’s Premiere Fund. It has also been supported by the UKFC’s Development Fund through Optimum and StudioCanal, which is handling international sales.

The film tells the story of razor-wielding teenager Pinkie who is forced to marry a naïve waitress after she stumbles on evidence linking Pinkie’s gang to a murder. Mirren and Postlethwaite will play Ida and Phil Cokery, a couple who try to save Rose and expose Pinkie.

Joffe has set the film in 1964 with it famous South Coast quasi-riot between teenage Mods and older Rockers. He said: “We’re making Brighton Rock as contemporary as we possibly can because the story feels ‘modern’. It’s too alive, too vibrant and too relevant to be contained in the late thirties.”

His previous credits include screenplays for Pawel Pawlikowski’s Last Resort and Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s 28 Weeks Later as co-writer. He is also the director of Channel 4’s The Shooting Of Thomas Hurndall, which won him a Bafta.

Webster said: “[Joffe] has written a formidable script that has attracted a cast that is a perfect blend of youth and experience. The scene is set to make a truly great British gangster film.”

Optimum’s chief executive added: “We are delighted that the first production for Optimum and StudioCanal’s production venture combined such elements of quality in such a commercial project.”