This Is England
this isn't england - spikeprint
1983. Northern England. The country is in the heights of Thatcherism. The United Kingdom is at war with Argentina, and the country is gripped in economic downturn. Shaun (Turgoose) is tired of being picked on by the multitude of different groups in his school. He meets Woody (Joseph Gilgun), who takes him under his wing, and makes him a member of his gang.
But the peace is shattered by the return of Combo (Graham). He is a violent nutter who has spent three years in prison, and has emerged with a skewed vision of Britain. When he tries to push his racist leanings on the gang he splits the group up. Young Shaun chooses the path of the racist skinhead, partly due to the fact that his dad died in the Falklands.
Whilst the themes of This is England are quite strong, the execution of them are somewhat limited. Loosely based on Meadows own life, the story bubbles but never explodes. The underlying tension is always present when the mellow skinheads mix with their more extreme counterparts. But in a movie dealing with such serious issues, the eye is left off the ball in terms of plot. The exploration of the effects of such extremism isn't properly addressed, and merely fizzles out.
Meadow's is happier to create a snapshot of early 80's life in Britain. Such is the detail in sets and costumes; you could be forgiven for believing that this movie was actually made in 1983. The attention to detail makes for nostalgic viewing, and anyone growing up during the time will be shot back to their youth. The soundtrack adds to the overall feel, with some great tunes, which creates a highly believable snapshot of the time.
But nostalgia isn't enough when dealing with such serious issues. The main point of the movie is diluted, and really could have been more shocking. In a nation struggling with unemployment combined with racial tension, this would seem to be the main issue. But it is in dealing with this that the movie fails. Still, strong performances from the lead characters, especially Turgoose, do lift it a little, just not enough.
Review published on the 11 September 2007 21:13
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