This is England

"Excellent"

This is England Review


If Shane Meadows faltered with his vigilante drama Dead Man's Shoes, he makes up for it with room to spare in his latest, This is England. Evoking England in the early 1980s down to the hideous sweaters and burgeoning slang, no other film at this year's Tribeca Film Festival felt as sincere or nostalgic as Meadows' parable of masculine influence and the role of paterfamilias on youthful worship.

As a prattling, chubby boy, Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) is the fall-out of decimated British pride. Living fatherless from the Falklands War (which ushered in the days of Margaret Thatcher), angst-ridden Shaun drifts through the rotted-carpet apartments and graffiti-strewn building of a sorry-ass town at the butt-end of nowhere. His angst finds a home, however, when he meets a group of skinhead-punks led by the charismatic Woody (Joseph Gilgun). Woody and his boys wear tight Doc Martens, tucked-in polos, and skinny suspenders: the necessary look for the English Rude Boy, the deterrent to the New Wave. In Woody, Shaun finds a father and a brother that his time-period has left him wanting.

Though Woody and his gang aren't violent, the same cannot be said for Woody's long-lost father/brother figure Combo (Stephen Graham). Combo comes home from prison with a nationalist chip on his shoulder, preparing to find soldiers for what he calls the battle for national pride. Woody's old enough not to buy it, but the only thing more powerful than a father to Shaun is a grandfather. Triggering the pain and hatred from his father's death, Combo soon has Shaun threatening Pakistani shop-owners and looking to Combo for his next move. Combo's motives, however, are easily recognizable as something more to do with masculine insecurities than any sort of nationalist logic.

Meadows shows a strengthening in form here, but also in his attention as a screenwriter. The defectors in Woody's gang are all seen for their insecurities in early scenes, with the exception of one truly political member who is tossed by Combo's wayside after nay-saying the Nationalist lead speaker. Shaun's mother (Jo Hartley) doesn't see the essential differences between the Woody skinheads and Combo's skinheads, allowing Shaun to be ushered into a racist mindset. Mirroring this with Combo's inability to woo Woody's girlfriend, Meadows not only diagnoses the need for masculine leadership in youth but the damages of a motherless existence as one grows older.

Combo is a creation of pure psychological schism and Graham, in an explosive performance, finds all the brute machismo and misguided hope in his character. Turgoose expertly balances the skinhead pathos and misguided sentiments in Shaun, and Meadows makes good on his surroundings, making Shaun's terrain as hopeless as the national identity. Shaun's girlfriend wears caked make-up and sports rat's-nest hair: She is the American 1980s superimposed on the English 1980s. But Shaun, with his long black coat and shaved head, has no intimations towards another nationality: Shaun is England.

Fab five.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 101 mins

In Theaters: Friday 27th April 2007

Box Office USA: $95.8k

Box Office Worldwide: $8.2M

Budget: $2.4M

Distributed by: IFC First Take

Production compaines: EM Media, UK Film Council, Screen Yorkshire, Big Arty Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 84 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Mark Herbert

Starring: as Shaun, as Combo, as Cynth, as Milky, as Lol, as Woody, as Meggy, as Gadget, as Pukey Nicholls

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.