Back in June I posted a review of Awaydays, a film about football hooligans in the 1980’s. In it I explained that as a football fan I just don’t understand football hooligans. With yet another film on the subject I still don’t get football hooligans.
The Firm is a remake of the 1988 TV movie of the same name staring Gary Oldman. The film starts like any other in the sub-genre. A young man , Dom (Calum McNab) with no direction in his life and nothing better to do with himself becomes infatuated with the glamour of football violence. Yes I did say glamour, Nick Love and other directors of these films do seem to have a romanticised view of hooligans. In this case the leader of the “Firm” is Bex (Paul Anderson) he is happily married, has a good job and wears the latest fashions, ugly garish coloured 80’s tracksuits. Dom gets more and more sucked into the lifestyle as things hot up between the firm and their local rivals. You know things aren’t going to end well. And true to form the plot unfolds in a predictable way. This isn’t Nick Love’s first foray into football violence, 2004’s The Football Factory covered the same subject. The problem with all these films, Awaydays and Green Street (2005) (known as Hooligans in America) is none of them give a satisfactory explanation to the phenomenon. They all give a vague idea of why young men who get involved suggesting they are looking for identity and a sense of belonging. But more often than not the main character often walks away. Not explaining those that stay remain with the firm. There is also a recurring theme of ridiculing older people who are still involved. It is almost as if it is acceptable as a younger person to get involved as long as you grow out of it.
So why do I keep watching these films. I could use an array of excuses suggesting I am desperately trying to understand the subject matter. The truth is far simpler than that, it is morbid curiosity, the cinematic equivalent to rubberneckers gawping at car accidents. The other almost bizarre thing is the film is very watchable and actually quite good. Despite a or possible because of a certain repulsion to the subject matter I was actually drawn into the narrative. The dialogue is snappy and often funny. McNab and Anderson are both good in the leading roles. It is not original and has nothing new or interesting to say for itself but it does have a certain style that suggests we haven’t seen the best of Nick Love yet.