Yes­ter­day’s yobs

CASS Di­rected by Jon S Baird. Star­ring Nonso Anozie, Nathalie Press, Leo Gre­gory, Gavin Brocker, Tamer Has­san, Ralph Ine­son 16 cert, Screen, Dublin, 108 min

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

DI­RECTED by the pro­ducer of Green Street, this work­man­like Bri­tish drama con­sti­tutes one more un­wel­come ad­di­tion to the per­plex­ing genre that is the hoolie movie. Each of the batch of re­cent films deal­ing with English foot­ball vi­o­lence has tended to edge its pro­tag­o­nist away from hooli­gan­ism and to­wards a set­tled life.

This is right and proper, but one sus­pects the films’ enor­mous sales on DVD are driven less by a de­sire to see Bif­fer bath the baby than an urge to watch the same fel­low drive sharp­ened screw­drivers into closely cropped skulls.

To be fair, Cass, which is adapted from a mem­oir by for­mer West Ham thug Cass Pen­nant, is more re­spon­si­ble than Green Street or The Foot­ball Fac­tory, and fea­tures a gen­uinely touch­ing lead per­for­mance from Nonso Anozie.

The story fol­lows its hero, an Afro-Caribbean child adopted by salt-of-the-earth East En­ders, as he at­tempts to fit in with the dys­func­tional na­tion that was Eng­land in the 1970s. Even­tu­ally he be­comes ac­cepted into the In­ter City Firm, West Ham’s trav­el­ling mob, and, af­ter slap­ping his way out of a few scrapes, rises to be­come one of its lead­ers.

Pe­riod am­bi­ence is sum­moned up by blast­ing out The Is­raelites. Cass’s sense of racial iso­la­tion is con­veyed when he tries to wash away his black­ness with car­bolic. You know the sort of thing.

The film fea­tures only one ex­ces­sively vi­o­lent se­quence, but the film-mak­ers’ (not quite sneak­ing) ad­mi­ra­tion for the hooli­gans’ lo­gis­ti­cal gifts and ded­i­ca­tion to their task is never in much doubt.

Whereas works such as Alan Clarke’s The Firm and Shane Mead­ows’s re­cent This Is Eng­land got to grips with the ob­scene thrill that can ac­com­pany recre­ational ha­tred, Cass ap­pears to view its sub­jects as lit­tle more than naughty boys in need of a good talk­ing to. It re­ally is time to blow the whis­tle on this squalid genre.

Cass (Nonso Anozie, cen­tre) and his crew

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