It's A Casual Life

It's A Casual Life

***

Reviewed by: Martin Gray

Riffing your title from a much-loved classic isn't the best of ideas, inviting all kids of comparisons that may or may not be fair.

I soon got over thinking of Jimmy Stewart lassoing the moon, though; the only thing this has in common with Frank Capra's classic is three quarters of the title. Instead of small-town hero George Bailey we have big city troublemaker Jimmy Collins, city trader and longtime football hooligan.

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He's not so much a fan as a fanner of flames of dissent, out looking for trouble with his crew before, during and after games. As Jimmy, Alex Driscoll is unrecognisable as EastEnders vicar Alex (brother of Tamsin Outhwaite's Melanie) Healy - a tough-talking, smartly dressed hardman who lives to fight and misses the buzz of thieving the casual gear from Harrods he'd snatch before adult responsibilities took hold.

The format is simple - Jimmy addresses the camera and tells us about what being a thug means to him, with inserts to black and white shots (why do directors always equate mono with, perversely, reality AND dreams?) of his crew in the pub, in the street, in a fray. And that's it - if there's a message to be had it's that outwardly respectable men can be violent tossers, but that's hardly a revelation.

Driscoll's a handsome fella, with charisma, and is convincing enough, but it's a shame his soliliquy has no dramatic high to match Jimmy's forays into tribal battle. There may be a mini message intended - Jimmy's best mate Snowy is black (well har har), so he may be a scumbag, but he's not a racist scumbag.

Perhaps the film is saying something about masculinity in crisis, but given that the crew members are depicted as more interested in clothes than your average Queer Eye For The Straight Guy mentor, who knew it?

Reviewed on: 04 Jul 2004
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A footy hooligan reveals his motivations.

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