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Green Street Hooligans (A Movie Review)

Updated: Oct 3, 2021

Green Street Hooligans

Green Street Hooligans


Starring Elijah Wood, Charlie Hannum, Claire Forlani, Marc Warren, Leo Gregory, Geoff Bell, Kieran Bew, Henry Goodman, Christopher Hehir, Terence Jay, Ross McCall, Francis Pope and Rafe Spall.

Screenplay by Lexi Alexander, Dougie Brimson and Josh Shelov.

Directed by Lexi Alexander.

Distributed by Freestyle Releasing. 109 minutes.  Rated R.

Violence can be contagious.

It’s not an original notion, nor is it one that has been overlooked in the movies.  However, if human history has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that frenzied melees have a disturbing but strangely seductive fascination.  This was shown quite definitively in many films like Fight Club and American History X.  (Come to think of it, Edward Norton may be the figurehead for this style.)

Green Street Hooligans is the British football (that’s soccer for you and me Yanks…) version of the story.  It makes sense, football fans are notoriously loyal to their teams and volatile.  Periodically stadiums erupt into massive riots between fans of teams like Manchester United or Charleroi.

The innocent who is introduced into this world is Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood), the son of a foreign correspondent who has been expelled from Harvard after being framed by his roommate, the spoiled son of a Senator.  He flies to England to see his sister (it’s nice to see Claire Forlani working again…) and her new British husband, Steve (Marc Warren).

Through Steve, Matt meets and befriends his brother Pete, who is the head of the Firm (sort of like a street gang) for the local team West Ham United.  Pete and his group live for game day, on which they get drunk, they watch the game and then they search out a rumble with the fans of the opposing team.  Pete is played by Charlie Hannum, who is looking a lot more rough and tumble than he did a few years ago as Lloyd, the dreamy British exchange student on the cult Fox-TV series Undeclared.

Matt is initially disturbed by the violence, but he quickly becomes hooked on the adrenaline rush and local fame.  Matt has to hide his background as a journalism student (in these circles, a journalist ranks a little lower on the food chain than pedophile) from his new friends, who already don’t quite trust him because he is a Yank.

As he gets deeper and deeper into the firm culture he grows to find out about a tragic rivalry between West Ham and Millwood.  This brings secrets about his in-law to the surface and threatens his sister’s marriage.

Green Street Hooligans is an interesting look at a subculture that seems horrific from a distance and shows how it can be attractive from close up.  It’s not a perfect film, it can be a little melodramatic and you never really totally understand the firms’ motivations and deep animosities.  Then again, that’s often the way with violence.  (9/05)

Dave Strohler

Copyright ©2005  All rights reserved.  Posted: October 13, 2005.

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