Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.
Friday, 1 October 2010
This is England
Set in the Midlands in the summer of '83, the film follows Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), a young schoolboy who is picked on for being poor and is still struggling to come to terms with the death of his dad in the Falklands War. Shaun becomes instant friends with Woody (Joe Gilgun), leader of a gang of skinheads (Andrew Shim, Vicky McClure, Rosamund Hanson, Andrew Ellis, Jack O'Connell, Kieran Hardcastle, Chanel Cresswell, Danielle Watson and Sophie Ellerby), who take him under their wing and promise to look out for him. Later on, however, fellow skinhead and old mate to Woody, Combo (Stephen Graham) rejoins the gang after being released from prison, and it soon becomes clear he is a white supremasist which causes the skinhead gang to split, and Shaun to follow Combo and join the white supremacy after Combo uses the Falklands War to manipulate Shaun's mind.
Opening with a montage of clips of early '80s events (including footage of the Army off to fight in Falklands, Maggie Thatcher in the Houses of Parliament, discos, and Charles and Di's royal wedding) the film quickly establishes itself as a representation of British '80s culture. Everything is there - the fashion statements, the haircuts, the bullying, the rundown estates, and back street shops, and - most noticeable of all - the gangs picking on the small and poor Shaun. Thomas Turgoose (making his acting debut) carries the film as Shaun. His constant fight to defend his late father and his striving to have a better life than the one he has is really heartfelt and powerful, and you can't help but feel sorry for him as he gets ganged up on. Stephen Graham is just as good as Combo, making the white supremasist cunning, heartless and intimidating to a seriously psychopathic level, which he should have recieved a lot more recognition for. The skinhead gang make a great support cast, showing just how supportive and loving gangs truly could be and are a truly heartwarming bunch.
The film may be full of racism and violence, however, it is by no means condoning it, but shows just how horrific the consequences of it can be. The film's ending/climax where Combo tricks Milky (Shim) into coming over with weed only to beat him to an unconscious pulp due to his Jamaican roots will seriously leave a lump in the throat as Milky cowers unable to defend himself and Shaun watches in horror, unable to stop Combo. Up until that point it had all been racist grafitti and threatening the South Asian community with knives, so it is a massive shock when it comes, and shows just how horrific and serious the consequences are, especially when Combo realizes what he's done and, picking him up out of a pool of his own blood, rushes Milky to the hospital. The vivid images will really stick in one's mind and make the stomach clench.
In short This is England is a very well made, yet very horrific film, that is truly British and is carried by its outstanding cast. The vivid images and violence are what truly make it a film that shows the consequences of racism and violence.
Stars: Thomas Turgoose, Stephen Graham, Joe Gilgun, Andrew Shim, Vicky McClure, Rosamund Hanson, Andrew Ellis, Jack O'Connell, Kieran Hardcastle, Perry Benson, George Newton, Jo Hartley, Chanel Cresswell, Danielle Watson, Sophie Ellerby, Frank Harper, Kriss Dosanjh.
BAFTA: Best British Film (Shane Meadows, Mark Herbert).
BAFTA nomination: Best Original Screenplay (Shane Meadows).