Football films #2 : Alan Clarke’s The Firm (UK – 1989)



Alan Clarke’s The Firm (1989) is a frightening drama starring Gary Oldman and written by Al Ashton.

A tale of 1980’s British groups of Hooligans fighting it out for the dubious honor to be the “Firm” that will represent England on the European Hooligan scene.

The film exposes these Firms as groups of professional men in a violent organized structure. Clarke and Ashton, cleverly construct a dramatic tension around Gary Oldman’s character of Bex, a local “legend” that leads one of the rival “Firms”. Oldman is at his best:  Very convincing, believable, very frightening, very human as he leads his bunch against its rivals.

The direct and violent documentary style, Clarke’s trademark, is all here and used to great effect that serves the purpose. He also incorporates dialogues driven motives and designs  (The Hotel scene) with a simple but surreal feel. Fiction meets  Britt socialism.

And there is actually no real football sequence in the film…


The Hotel scene:



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