Green Street was always going to interest me because football hooligans are so closely associated with England. I’m a football fan and have never been involved, our ever witnessed first-hand football hooligans but in popular culture, particularly American culture, its presented so closely with England. Of course there is some credibility to this and it is (or at least was) part of the countries national game.
That is why I was drawn to a movie like Green Street that was going to demonstrate the real, gritty side of football hooligans. To some extent, it does manage this. It demonstrates well the drinking culture so closely associated with it, the rivalry between different football clubs and the organising of meetings between the different “firms.” I’m sure the people involved would say differently but it feels very genuine.
It needs a viewpoint though, someone to help the uninitiated get involved in this darker side of British culture. That is where the first part of random casting comes into play – Elijah Wood. Wood plays a journalist that is fleeing embarrassment and shame in America and gets drawn into the passion of hooligans. As a journalist, he is a natural enemy to his new friends, creating an underlying tension throughout the movie.
Wood just isn’t that convincing though. He starts very well because he does “wide-eyed” very well and always looks like he is out of his depth. The movie requires him to transform into a natural fighter and hooligan, which never really pays-off. It makes you wonder who thought Wood was the best fit.
Considering the movie is set in England, with a deeply English story and a cast full of decent British actors (including the underrated Marc Warren), it makes you wonder who made the decision to cast an American in the second lead role. Wood makes sense but Charlie Hunnam doesn’t at all.
It doesn’t help Hunnam’s claim to the role when the first moments he opens his mouth you hear the worst cockney accent since Dick Van Dyke. It jars harshly every time he speaks and never gets better. It baffles me why it was ever needed when you have actors who, even if they aren’t half as good, could do the same job as Hunnam without his stupid accent.
It makes me think that the people behind the film aren’t British. This is particularly clear when we get to the end of the movie. The story becomes over-dramatic, upping the stakes hugely in a way that seems over-blown and unrealistic. The film is searching for a clear ending or suitable finale and struggles to find a convincing way of delivering it.
Overall, Green Street does a someway decent job of presenting a part of English culture that seems to be on the decline. It shows the rivalries, drinking culture and football links very well – without shying away from the violent aspects either. Some very questionable casting and an extreme finale taint the good work that has gone before though.
Rating – 3
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)