Critics Consensus: Awaydays is an overwrought coming-of-age drama that romanticizes the violence of 1970s street culture in Liverpool and neglects the requisites of a good script.
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A young man makes some new and dangerous friends in this kitchen-sink drama set in Northern England in 1979. 19-year-old Carty (Nicky Bell) lives with his father (Ged McKenna) and younger sister Molly (Holliday Grainger) and has a good job working for his uncle Bob (Ian Puleston-Davies). Despite his loving family and promising future, Carty is fascinated with "the Pack," a gang of football supporters led by John (Stephen Graham) who are known in the neighborhood for their drinking and reckless violence. Carty strikes up a casual friendship with Mark (Liam Boyle), a member of the Pack nicknamed "Elvis," and while Mark isn't convinced Carty is cut out to run with them at first, Carty's tenacity in a fight changes his mind. While Carty and his new mates use their muscle to knock some sense into a short-term boyfriend who mistreats Molly, she doesn't trust the Pack and tries to persuade her brother that hanging out with them will lead to a bad end. Carty isn't easily persuaded, but his relationship with the Pack becomes complicated when his friendship with Mark takes an unexpected turn. Awaydays was adapted from a novel by Kevin Sampson, who also wrote the film's screenplay. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Awaydays
The film falls down in its effort to make credible the background stories of its well-performed lead characters.
Awaydays comes close to being lumped in with every other British indie but the excellent production quality pull it through and director Pat Holden is left with another promising, if flawed, adventure.
Bell's wholehearted performance and the film's convincingly scuzzy atmosphere don't make up for the big hole in the script.
A quality cast, strong performances and excellent period detail keep it feeling real.
There's no shortage of movies about Britain's mean streets and, for the most part, Awaydays runs with the pack.
A meagre budget and a lack of clear-cut character motivations blunts the impact of what might have been a powerful Mean Streets-style study of male friendship.
A pretentious, grubbily voyeuristic paean to football hooliganism, kitted out with ubiquitous slo-mo violence, tactical post-punk hits and retro fashions.
All around him the movie drips with atmosphere. The evocative sense of place is overwhelming, and perhaps the real star. Birkenhead in 1979 may not have been like this. But it is now.
To these figures, Sampson applies an almost hysterical level of romanticisation, and it sort of works - especially when all the impossibly yearning post-punk music on the soundtrack really gets going.
What's convincing here is the pervasive unhappiness - the movie really understands violence as a drug, a way out of a void.
Awaydays is a ham-fisted coming-of-age drama that fails to say anything interesting about male relationships, violence, the 1970s or the peculiar northern soul of Liverpool.
Awaydays is a reasonably well-crafted coming of age story and the best of the recent hooligan dramas. It would've been much more impressive, however, had it arrived before Control and This Is England.
Call us old-fashioned, but we wouldn't have minded some characters to relate to, root for and care about.
Lacking the empathy brought to this sort of subject by Shane Meadows, this is a one-way ticket that hits the dramatic buffers all too soon.
To its credit, Awaydays does not glamorise its hooligans the way The Football Factory and Green Street did.
To the music fans, it's watching Echo & The Bunnymen gigs at nightclubs; to The Pack, Awaydays contingent of football hooligans, it's fighting in car parks.
Combining awayday punch-ups with bedsit brooding, the tortured relationship between the lads is generally lifeless. Things aren't helped by the film's sheer gloom, as if a layer of dust and grime lies over the camera lens. Missable.
The film tries to blend Seventies music, fashion and a grim backdrop, but at heart it's a nasty and limp story told better by other movies.
Full of junkies, sordid sex and ultra-violence, it paints Seventies Liverpool as a vicious place to live. But somehow the gritty "realism" isn't believable. Perhaps it's the rambling plot or the shallow characterisation.
Audience Reviews for Awaydays
How many films do you really need about Football hooliganism? Does Stephen Graham have to be in every British film that has a slightly dodgy stereotype in it? Well if we only have to have one, it might as well be this one. At least it doesn't glamorise anything, unless you like being miserable that is. The suggestion that the two leads have any kind of relationship or attraction towards each other is so subtle that you'd be forgiven for completely missing it. That said, I quite liked it. It's not brilliant but it is something new. Or maybe it's a new version of something old that wasn't very good but it got me all nostalgic, I don't know, but I liked it. Oh, and the soundtrack is nothing short of glorious.More
A really badly made film in many respects and the zero budget is glaringly obvious right from the start. Of course a low budget doesn't make a bad film and can often go in the film's favour, helping to give a film a raw, gritty and more credible feel for example. But good direction doesn't cost anything and here they don't seem to have bothered at all. It often feels like the actors were left to get on with it by themselves - unwise with a cast of (mostly) unknowns. The story is all over the place and characterisation is hamfisted and mealymouthed. So why did I like it so much??...
Maybe cus it's British and cheaply made and, funnily enough, it's not some dumb horror? Maybe cus there are no big stars, or celeb endorsements, or product placement, media hype, explosions or smug knowing in-jokes. Maybe it's cus The News Of The World slagged it off?
Or maybe I'm just a sucker for a story about a homo, tortured by self-loathing and unrequited love, set to a fantastic soundtrack? (it is FUCKING fantastic!). Maybe cus it's a failure but at least they tried?
Actually it's all of the above. It's certainly nowhere near in the same league as 'Control' or the best of Shane Meadows (to which some lazy critics have compared it to) but despite (and sometimes because of) it's many flaws it's not a bad little film and I really enjoyed it.
Hugely dissapointed with this...what the hell it thought it was supposed to be I dont know. There is no comparrison between books and the film adaptation but this one was even worse....I have absolutely no problems with people being gay but this film wasnt s0 sure. I know it was set in 1979 but is it a love story? Is it film about football violence or people being bored with their ordinary lives?.....God knows cause this film didnt...I sat there totally bemused and im sure most of you will be too.....so much potential so little outcome.....and the fight scenes were crap!More
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