The Firm DVD Review: Petty Thug Life
Slick, well-shot and tinged with nostalgia, Nick Love’s remake of 1988 TV movie The Firm is certainly a watchable take on the extreme side of eighties football terrace culture. Bringing to the fore the ‘casual’ culture which came to define an era of pre and post-match hooliganism Love smartly evokes the explicit physical machismo of working class males apparently overcompensating for their dandyish love of shopping and fashion.
Focusing on the rites-of-passage of Dom (Calum McNab) and his relationship with his trendy but malicious mentor Bex (Paul Anderson), The Firm sustains a healthy cheeky chappy undertone while its young hero, engrossed in an increasingly violent lifestyle, comes to terms with his new surroundings.
However, by consciously attempting to avoid the ‘glamorisation’ of violence, and by deliberately playing down the specific firm to which the main protagonists are loyal, it lacks the grittiness that summed up the brutal reality of Britain’s Thatcherite sink estates while simultaneously failing to fulfil full pastiche status. Indeed at times, the film’s tone tips all too far into the realms of an awkward Ashes-to-Ashes style Only Fools and Horses hybrid with the odd four-letter tirade thrown in for good measure.
Undoubtedly a more mature effort than Love’s 2004 effort The Football Factory, which eye-wateringly celebrated violence for violence’s sake, the film’s strengths lie in its aesthetics and the juxtaposition of the era’s bright coloured, designer clobber and the grey backdrop of inner city council estates. With scene stealing piss-take performances from Dom’s parents (Eddie Webber and Camille Coduri) and a thumping soundtrack to boot The Firm certainly carries its own in a genre which all too often appeals to those who themselves had been there, done that and bought the Fila tracksuit.