This Is England(2007)
On Demand, DVD & Blu-Ray
Available from 2 providers
BY Andrew Hedley Flicks Writer
Director Shane Meadows is one of those directors who like to make highly-personal work. So personal, in fact, that no-one ever gets to see it. He’s been beavering away for years, with the same group of collaborators, painting a picture of the English Midlands – the places that you won’t find in the tourist brochures – and he’s finally struck the jackpot with this semi-autobiographical film about a young skinhead.
This Is England breathes with life and some of the most natural spontaneous acting that has been seen in a long time. These actors are all very inexperienced; most of them were gathered from the local youth theatre group. The lead, 13-year-old Thomas Turgoose, is absolutely brilliant and provides the heart and soul of the film. He had never acted in a film prior, in fact he wasn’t even attending school everyday as he should. It’s a lesson to all ‘trained’ actors – stop being so pretentious, put down your silly techniques, and just give us a good performance for once. This pug-faced drop-out kid from a council estate in the middle of England puts you all to shame.
But the real reason we should see this film is for the character of Combo (Stephen Graham). He’s an older skinhead who still hangs around with kids just so he can get some followers. He has this hard-man act, but he still drives around with ‘L’ plates on his car. He even bursts into tears at one point. He is pathetic creature. A David Brent, but ten times as sad and nowhere near as smart.
The period design is perfect, from the costumes to the cars to the horrible old cafés and blocky housing. The 16mm photography has a grainy immediate look which gives a raw feeling like a documentary. Clips from old television footage (Roland Rat, Margaret Thatcher, and plenty of the Falklands war) really ground the film in 1983.
A small weakness of the film is a tendency to spell out shifts in character. This is particularly true for supporting characters like Pukey and Gadget. They say things like “Are you sure we’re doing the right thing?” and such self-awareness doesn’t really ring true. There’s also a tendency for the musical score to get a bit sentimental, but ending with a cover of ‘Please Let Me Get What I Want’ by The Smiths was a nice touch.
This Is England is worth seeing for its humour and engaging characters. It is not an overwhelmingly depressing film, but has some touching camaraderie between the young friends. It poses some very interesting questions about what it means to be English, especially during the turbulent 80s.
The Peoples' Reviews
Your rating & reviewRate / Review this movie
Rate and/or review
This Is England
BY Ken-Burns superstar
This was England in the 80's. This is England is a moving story with brilliant performances. How a young boy whose dad dies in The Falkland War can be turned around by some skinheads and then find himself again is a winner. Shane Meadows has done a clearly open portrait of England during those years. As writer/director he has helped rebuild a film industry single handedly
Showing 3 of 3 reviews. See all reviews