The Firm (18)
Time Out rating:
<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5Rate this
Time Out says
Tue Sep 15 2009In his most mature film to date, Nick Love – the ‘daddy’ of British geezer movies – repays his debt to what he calls the ‘authentic British working-class filmmaking’ of his hero Alan Clarke. But this affectionate re-imagining strips Clarke’s 1988 football hooligan drama of its fierce political critique, turning it into a sentimental coming-of-age story. A nostalgic period piece set four years earlier, Love’s version is seen not from the point of view of gang leader ‘Bex’ Bissell (Gary Oldman in the original), but from that of wide-eyed wannabe Dom (Calum McNab).
On one level, this is an affectionate celebration of floppy-haired, designer tracksuit-wearing football casuals. On another it is a rites-of-passage tale about a young lad who idolises an older, cooler role model, before realising that he’s a bigot. Awash with the soulful funk sounds of René and Angela, The Gap Band and Yarborough and Peoples, this version replaces Clarke’s gimlet-eyed critique of the Thatcherite ‘loadsamoney’ culture with a naive adolescent’s account of his troubled season running with Kool and the Gang.
McNab is sensitive as Dom, while Paul Anderson offers a subtle twist on Oldman’s violent Bex, but Daniel Mays’s portrayal of Bex’s nemesis, Yeti, fails to equal the intensity of Phil Davis’s earlier psycho. Love’s second movie about hooligans marks a quantum leap forward from the messy, senseless violence of ‘The Football Factory’, but, like Dom, he falls short of his mentor’s demanding standards.
Author: Nigel Floyd