Friday, May 06, 2005

The Firm (Alan Clarke)

Not to be confused with the Tom Cruise movie of the same name, this "Firm" is a dark, dark comedy about a group of middle class soccer hooligans, led by Gary Oldman's real estate agent. The men don't seem to care about soccer much at all, despite surface appearances, using their fandom solely as a means to beat the shit out of each other. In one unforgettable scene, Oldman locks himself in his childhood bedroom (all wall space covered with soccer photos) at his parents' home and pulls a suitcase full of weapons out of the closet. He spends the next few minutes bashing a pillow with a lead pipe in a hooligan's equivalent of athletic training. Alternately hilarious and frightening, sometimes within the same scene, the film is remarkably consistent in tone and somehow manages to be both wildly exaggerated and convincingly realistic. Clarke's film never tips over into either cartoon stylization or rote British kitchen-sink realism, instead finding a weird rhythm all its own.

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