(Alan Clarke, UK, 1988) 67 minutes


Director: Alan Clarke
Producer: David M Thompson
Screenplay: Al Hunter
Photography: John Ward, Richard Philpott, Ben Philpott
Editor: John Strickland
Gary Oldman
Lesley Manville
Philip Davis
Andrew Wilde
Charles Lawson

Reviews and notes

THE FIRM is a crackling entertainment, built around an exuberant performance from Gary Oldman, and possibly Clarke's funniest film...

Written by AI Hunter, THE FIRM concerns Bex, a thriving London reactor, with a wife and small daughter, and his parents' home to go to if ever he and the wife have a row. This does happen when their infant gets hold of Dad's razor blades and puts them in her mouth. Not the blades for shaving. No, Bex is the all-round Englishman - he has a hobby, too, a weekend pastime. He is the leader of a club, a gang, the firm, that follows a soccer team, West Ham United, and likes to beat the shit out of other firms. It's the market economy of violence and Bex has to do it - he 'needs the buzz'.

This is soccer hooliganism (to use the official term of disapproval), a viciousness supposedly pursued by the young and the out-of-work. In fact, if you want to get in to a soccer match in Britain now - and you can't cause mayhem without getting in - you need a respectable income. Thus Clarke sees the hooliganism as a sport of yuppies. The razors go in the cap peak - weaponry is all craftsmanly ingenuity.

It's with the arrival of Steadicam that Alan believes in a style which I describe as being in among the people. He wants to get right in there. He loved youth and its vitality and energy, and plainly he wanted to reflect that in his style. THE FIRM is plainly the climax of the style, and I think the masterpiece - one of the few authentic television masterpieces. If you say what are the great implicitly anti-Thatcherite films of 1980's; well, that's the best of them, for me.
-David Hare, Edinburgh Film Festival, 1998.

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