Awaydays (18)

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The Independent Culture

Portrait of the artist as a young football hooligan.

Kevin Sampson's memoir of violent Wirral casuals, adapted from his novel, is a labour of love combining a great soundtrack (Magazine, Joy Division, Lou Reed) with evocations of a Liverpool epoch (Eric's, Probe Records) that will chime heartbreakingly for Merseysiders who came of age circa 1979. Curtes Lee Mitchell's photography of the misty river and that milky Liverpool light are outstanding. But topographical accuracy is no substitute for dramatic credibility, or for actorly competence. Nicky Bell (a Mancunian) has the right pale-skinned, whippet-lean look as the film's protagonist, Carty, but his imprecise Scouse accent grates horribly on the ear, and his explosions of rage are unconvincing. Liam Boyle as his adored mate Elvis has some presence. Its themes of friendship and rejection are handled with aching sincerity, but they cannot galvanise a drama too forgiving – and too much in awe – of knife-wielding yobs.

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