This Is England

This Is England

It’s 1983 and school is out. 12-year-old Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) is an isolated lad growing up in a grim coastal town, whose father has died fighting in the Falklands war. Over the course of the summer holiday he finds fresh male role models when those in the local skinhead scene take him in. With his new friends Shaun discovers a world of parties, first love and the joys of Doc Martin boots. Here he also meets Combo (Stephen Graham), an older, racist skinhead who had recently got out of prison. As Combo’s gang harass the local ethnic minorities, the course is set for a rite of passage that will hurl Shaun from innocence into experience.

On Demand, DVD & Blu-Ray

Available from 2 providers

Flicks Review

This Is England is an engaging look at the England of the 1980s from a thirteen-year-old’s perspective, featuring some compelling performances and a good dose of gloomy overcast atmosphere.

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

Average ratings from 4 ratings, 3 reviews
Reviewed & Rated by
Your rating & review
Rate / Review this movie

Four stars, this was a brilliant, moving, hilarious movie, which pulled no punches and was a lot more fun than the trailer might suggest, while simultaneously dealing with some pretty heavy stuff.

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

Using the perspective of the young lad in this story gives it an edge for today's desensitised movie goers. Funny, insightful and occasionally disturbing and dark.

Showing 3 of 3 reviews. See all reviews

The Press Reviews

93% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • The writer-director brilliantly juxtaposes the personal and the political, bookending a stirring coming-of-age drama with the provocative opening and an equally affecting end sequence... Full Review

  • Hard, often shocking, film about punk life in early 80s Britain has great performances and some very funny scenes... Full Review

  • 1/2 This Is England may be best summed up as a "coming-of-age" story that puts aside the clichéd baggage often carried by the description and ultimately ends up being moving, genuinely funny, thought-provoking, and highly recommended... Full Review

  • The script and direction are virtually flawless.... Full Review

  • A modest, near-flawless gem, This Is England is the fifth feature by the young British director Shane Meadows, doing his best work since he first hit the festival scene in the mid-1990s with his hilarious, raw-hewn shorts “Small Time.”... Full Review

  • 1/2 Known for casting non-professionals, this film is worth seeing for the stunning performance from first-timer Tommo Turgoose who is all of 13-years-old, and just brilliant.... Full Review

  • With its knockout lead perfs and taut if slightly familiar construction, this '80s-set dramedy about a skinhead gang reps Meadows' most fluently made film so far... Full Review