As soon as you start watching Clubbed you’ll notice it has a very honest and down-to-earth approach. If you’re thinking this is another 54 stylish extravaganza with drinking, fucking, and all the rest, think again. This is a character-driven story about an ordinary bloke who worked in a factory and then starting working as a bouncer. And although it touches upon the club culture with all its good and bad sides, it remains firmly rooted in reality. The storytelling is very fluent and engaging. And the narration brought us closer to the characters. Plus it gave the movie a little bit of that Guy Ritchie vibe. Perhaps Hyena is a better comparison, telling the story from the police side.
About halfway in, I started noticing how Clubbed feels very realistic and authentic. So, I decided to learn more about it, and wouldn’t you know it it’s based on Geoff Thompson‘s autobiography. He even appears in the movie as one of the boxers in the gym. We follow him as he struggles to define himself as a real man and fit into society. This is something that all males go through and it takes some time to develop. So, while we’re talking about grown men here, they could just as easily been teenagers or young adults. But more about that later, for now, let’s focus on the movie.
We find Danny outside of prison, holding a suitcase and contemplating his life. You see, Danny was just a regular factory worker who lived for the weekends. But not so he could go out but so he could see his two lovely daughters. One day while waiting for them to finish their dancing classes he winds up in front of the boxing gym. There, he meets Louis, a man who’s going to ask him one simple question: do you want to try it? That question will change Danny’s life forever.
Clubbed offers a look into the world of not just nightclub bouncers in eighties England but also how the link between the crime world and the “regular” world works. I’m sure we’re not seeing the whole picture here as the club owner would be an important figure but all the other elements are there. The acting was pretty solid, especially from Colin Salmon and Shaun Parkes while our main man Mel Raido was a bit wobbly at times. There are some pretty visceral and harrowing scenes here, bringing home the point of just how fucked up things can get.
The movie also hits on several important issues like confrontation, self-confidence, and camaraderie. All of them are part of the masculinity package that you receive free of charge as soon as you can walk. You start getting conditioned by other males, society, and almost everything around you to behave a certain way. In recent years, this package has been referred to as the toxic masculinity package, pertaining to all the damage it does to not just its recipient but everyone around him. That’s the drive that kept pushing Danny into his new life. That’s the drive that said to him that he’s a better man now that he can fight and has strong friends. And there’s nothing wrong with the pursuit of any sport, activity, or job that makes you feel a certain way. As long as you’re aware of what’s going on and why is it going on.
I just wanted to mention this before we all get stuck with a big-ass rant about the tribal system of values. A system that has over the generations of harsh conditions brought forth simplistic roles that still permeate our culture. Roles that have become outdated in the last fifty years. You don’t have to define yourself through others or society. There’s no hidden camera or an audience judging your every move and interaction, deciding what kind of person you are. Whether you’re a strong man or a valued member of society. It’s all relative, arbitrary, complex, and ultimately, inconsequential. Also, your emotions are not the mirror of your true self. You can define yourself independent of any outside influence. And sure, we all live in a society that’s functioning in a certain way so some compromises have to be made. But let them be smart compromises.
Well, I guess we did end up with a bit of a rant.
Director: Neil Thompson
Writer: Geoff Thompson
Cast: Mel Raido, Colin Salmon, Shaun Parkes, Scot Williams, Ellen Thomas, Ronnie Fox, Maxine Peake
Fun Facts: Danny is reading Another Geoff Thompson book, “Fear – The Friend of Exceptional People”.