Green Street (18)Thursday 08 Sep 2005
Duration: 0 minutes
Directed by Lexi Alexander, starring Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunnam, Claire Forlani, Marc Warren and Leo Gregory.
Lexi Alexander's take on the violence of football hooliganism packs a punch, but is let down by a far-fetched central character.
Elijah Wood plays Matt Bruckner, a Harvard journalism student who gets expelled for something his wealthy roommate did. Instead of standing up for himself, he takes the fall and goes to visit his sister Claire (Forlani) in London. There, he meets her husband Steve (Warren) and his brother Pete (Hunnam), a football fanatic and ardent West Ham supporter.
Pete reluctantly takes Matt to a match, after which a violent fracas erupts and Matt finds himself having to stand and fight for the first time in his life. Pleased to have someone to look out for him in Pete and his friends, Matt quickly becomes accustomed to life in "the firm", Pete's band of followers. Known as the Green Street Elite, or GSE, these die-hard supporters resort to extreme violence in support of their beloved football club.
The naïve Matt soon begins to learn about the horrors of such fanaticism when he hears about the death of the son of the head of a rival firm at the hands of the GSE. Things soon get out of hand when Bovver (Gregory), Pete's old friend, gets jealous and mistrustful of Matt.
'Green Street' is violent, but there's real drama at the heart of it. We see a great camaraderie between these men, who are more complex than we might give hooligans credit for. Discovering that they are family men, with jobs as teachers, couriers and pilots alerts us to our own preconceptions about such men and shows us more than just their violent sides.
Nowhere is this more clearly evident than in the character of Pete, a streetwise, but warm individual, whose greatest quality is loyalty. Charlie Hunnam landed a plum role here and he makes the most of it, giving a far more believable performance than Wood, whose street clothes and swagger aren't enough to make us believe that he's now a fully-fledged hard man.
If Wood is looking to escape association with his days as Frodo in 'The Lord of the Rings', then he needs to do much more to make us believe that he isn't a one trick pony. He did much better as the creepy stalker in 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' than he does here.
'Green Street' is an engaging movie, but you'll have to suspend disbelief where Wood is concerned.