Green Street Hooligans (DVD) (WS)
This is a story of loyalty, trust, and the sometimes brutal consequences of living close to the edge. Expelled unfairly from Harvard, American Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood "Everything is Illuminated," the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy) flees to England to his sister's home. Once there, he is befriended by her charming and dangerous brother-in-law, Pete Dunham, and introduced to the underworld of British football hooliganism. Matt learns to stand his ground through a friendship that develops against the backdrop of this secret and often violent world. Also starring Claire Forlani ("Meet Joe Black," "Basquiat") and Charlie Hunnam ("Cold Mountain," "Nicholas Nickleby"). Directed by Academy Award-nominated director Lexi Alexander.
After the Lord of the Rings
trilogy, Elijah Wood could've opted for further big budget epics, but took a sharp left turn with this better-than-average B-movie. Released just after Everything is Illuminated
, another offbeat entry, Wood plays journalism student Matt Buckner. In the prologue, he's expelled from Harvard when his over-privileged roommate sets him up to take the fall for his own misdeeds. With nowhere to go, Matt decides to visit his sister, Shannon (Claire Forlani), in London. He's already got a chip on his shoulder when he falls under the sway of Shannon's brother-in-law, Pete (Charlie Hunnam), head of West Ham's football "firm," the Green Street Elite. Matt soon gets caught up in their thuggish anticsto tragic effect. In her feature debut, German-born Lexi Alexander makes a mostly convincing case for the attractions of violence to the emotionally vulnerable, as opposed to the emotionally numb pugilists of the more satirical Fight Club
. Unlike David Fincher (by way of Chuck Palahniuk), she plays it straight, except for the stylized fight sequences. Consequently, humor is in short supply, but the young Brit cast, especially Leo Gregory as the surly Bovver, is charismatic and Wood makes his character as believable as possible, i.e. he may seem miscast, but that's the point. Although there's no (direct) correlation between the two, Green Street
makes a fine taster for Bill Buford's Among the Thugs
, the ultimate dissection of the hooligan mentality. --Kathleen C. Fennessy