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||IMDB Rating: 0/10 from votes
||Director: Kevin Sampson,
||Stars: Anthony Borrows, Dannielle Malone, David Barlow, Elliot Hughes, Ged McKenna, Holliday Grainger, Ian Puleston-Davies, Lee Battle, Liam Boyle, Lianne Sorsa, Michael Ryan, Nicky Bell, Oliver Lee, Sean Ward, Stephen Graham
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The road to hell is paved with good intentions Carty.
The football hooligan movie! It's a genre of film in Britain that has
proved to be a sound source for farming, be it the oldies like The Firm
and I.D., or the spate of them that surfaced in the last decade such as
The Football Factory, Green Street and Cass, films quenching the thirst
for those who were either part of the scene, those who wish they were
part of the scene, or merely for those interested in maybe learning
about the subject to hand. There would have been many a football
hooligan film fan who ventured into Awaydays and got torpedoed by what
was on offer. For this is a different animal, a deep picture with heart
and brains and as it turns out, it's the most misunderstood movie of
the football hooligan splinter.
It's an everyday reminder of the absurdity of life.
Set in 1979 on The Wirral, Merseyside, film centres on the relationship
between two lads, Carty (Bell) & Elvis (Boyle), who become great
friends whilst running with The Pack, a small band of football
hooligans who followed Tranmere Rovers. The Pack are different to other
football mobs of the time, where the others were made up of boot boy
skinheads and scarf wearing dockers, these lads wore casual sportswear,
neat sweaters and sported wedge or fop haircuts. They also used Stanley
Knives to maim their opponents in battle. What unfolds with the Carty &
Elvis axis is that one of them, Carty, wants to be in with The Pack
even though he's not sure why, while Elvis wants out but isn't sure how
to achieve his goals. They both need each other, but for different
reasons. It seems......
Welcome to the petite bourgeoisie.
Writer Sampson achieves a rare old thing in the genre, he manages to
not glamorise the violence perpetrated by the football mob. He cloaks
some of his characters in misery and others as sad misfits, and he
perfectly understands that violence for these people is a drug, their
unity is a need to belong, a means to escaping what they see as a void
in their lives. With Carty and Elvis, they are from different
backgrounds: Elvis lives alone in a gungey flat (nicknamed The Bat
Cave), he's a tortured wastrel with a cynical outlook on life, Carty,
recently rocked by the death of his Mother, still has a job with good
wages, a father, a kid sister whom he adores and a clean family home.
As Elvis tells Carty, almost bitingly, that he has it all and he
doesn't belong with the people he so desperately wants to be with.
Hate the World it's so romantic.
It has been coined as the film that finds This is England meeting
Control, and that is fair enough, though it's more of a burden since
many observers accuse Awaydays of lacking freshness and not being
worthy of mentioning with those two excellent movies. Yet Awaydays gets
it mostly right, the period detail is spot on, and suitably grim as it
turns out for a depressed Thatcher era backdrop. From old slam door
trains and vinyl selling record shops, to the apparel sported by the
old football gangs and the new casual look of The Pack, Sampson clearly
knows his onions. One criticism I saw laughed that the youngsters of
The Pack were fighting grown men, how it looked ridiculous, but that's
exactly what it was, out with the old and in with the new. 1979 marked
the crossover from the boot boy scarf wearing thug to the young
"dressers" that would become infamous as football warfare reached a
front page news zenith in the 1980s. The film may ultimately be about
an unorthodox "bromance", with thematics of alienation, grief, family
and addiction threaded deftly into the story, but it sure as hell knows
the era as much as it does the characters.
Where will it end?
Which brings us to sound tracking and acting. The makers have fashioned
a brilliant sound track that blends with each passage of play in the
film; quite often marrying up to the character's emotional states. This
is the post-punk era and that means Joy Division, John Foxx's Ultravox,
Magazine, Echo & The Bunnymen and The Cure form the backbone of the
soundtrack. All great bands and all purveyors of sadness, poetry and a
veer from the norm. The acting away from Boyle (outstanding emotional
layers) and Bell (wonderfully enigmatic) is a bit hit and miss, but
such is the strength of the work by those two, film doesn't suffer.
Stephen Graham is a darn fine actor, but nobody should be thinking he
is stretching himself here, it's a role he could do in his sleep, but
it always remains a well etched characterisation of an ex-squaddie who
clearly can't let go of violence in his life. Oliver Lee is suitably
menacing as the sadistic Baby Milan, and Grainger does well with a
small female role in a film that uses the ladies perfunctorily. Must
mention Mitchell's photography, which has moments of brilliance (check
out the near water shots) that belie the low budget of the production.
Some character motives are sketchy and Scouse accents are wayward at
times, but this is an excellent film if you know what sort of film
awaits you. It's a far cry from the chest thumping machismo of those
films mentioned earlier, in that respect it's a failure. But as a
character study, an examination of confused souls searching for
something to bind their life to, and a observation of a young male
friendship under unusual circumstances, Holden & Sampson's film is a
near masterpiece. 9/10
Tags for Awaydays Full Movie
, Dannielle Malone
, David Barlow
, Elliot Hughes
, Ged McKenna
, Holliday Grainger
, Ian Puleston-Davies
, Lee Battle
, Liam Boyle
, Lianne Sorsa
, Michael Ryan
, Nicky Bell
, Oliver Lee
, Sean Ward
, Stephen Graham
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