England Is Mine

"Good"

England Is Mine Review


While this is billed as a film about The Smiths' singer-songwriter Morrissey, it's actually an unauthorised biopic about his early years. Which means that it doesn't include a single word or note of Morrissey's music. But while it may not tell us much about the British pop icon, the film is still a very well-made exploration of a young artist trying to discover his voice. The actors are excellent, as is the re-creation of Manchester from the mid-1970s to the early 80s.

It opens in 1976, as Steve Morrissey (Jack Lowden) is struggling against boredom to hold down a job. The thought of living the same dull life as everyone else terrifies him, and he rebels against the pressure from his patient mother (Simone Kirby) and sarcastic sister (Vivienne Bell). Instead, he hangs out with his lively artist friend Linder (Jessica Brown Findlay), going to various concerts and galleries while jotting lyrics in his notebook. Eventually he forms a band with guitarist Billy (Adam Lawrence), but Billy is quickly snapped up by a much bigger group. So Steve goes out looking for another boring job. And it takes awhile for him to meet Johnny Marr (Laurie Kynaston), with whom he will eventually form The Smiths.

There may be a rather obvious hole in this film where Morrissey's music should be, but there's plenty to enjoy along the way. Steve only sings once in the film (a New York Dolls cover), but Lowden plays him with a sparky sense of humour and a wry, somewhat mopey attitude that's surprisingly endearing. Lowden also plays the various relationships beautifully, creating terrific chemistry with Findlay, who lights up the screen with her sparky charisma. Kirby has some strong scenes of her own, as does Peter McDonald as Steve's largely absent father.

But while the characters are vivid, and while director-cowriter Mark Gill does a nice job evoking the look and feel of the period, there are other problems with the script. It shifts events and people around for no real dramatic effect, and it touches on but ultimately avoids any meaningful exploration of Morrissey's notorious asexuality. Instead, Gill indulges in quite a bit of unnecessary voiceover and some rather unsubtle symbolism in repeated shots of churning water. Morrissey's fans will be intrigued, but they won't be satisfied when it fails to connect the young man to his music. Still, since the singer is unlikely to give permission for a filmmaker to use his music, this movie will have to do.

Watch the trailer for England Is Mine:



Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Production compaines: Honlodge Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Mark Gill

Producer: Mark Gill, William Thacker

Starring: as Steven Patrick Morrissey, Jessica Brown Findlay as Linder Sterling, Simone Kirby as Elizabeth Morrissey, Laurie Kynaston as Johnny Marr, Finney Cassidy as Darren, Adam Lawrence as Billy Duffy, Katherine Pearce as Anji Hardie

Contactmusic


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