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

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

Advertisement
The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Partisan Movie Review

Partisan Movie Review

With his feature debut, young Australian filmmaker Ariel Kleiman tells a creepy story about a...

The Revenant Movie Review

The Revenant Movie Review

A wrenching saga of survival and revenge, Alejandro G. Inarritu's new epic is just as...

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

Quentin Tarantino is a filmmaker who simply can't be ignored, especially when he lobs a...

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.