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This Is England (DVD)

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Genre: Drama / Director: Shane Meadows / Actors: Stephen Graham, Andrew Ellis ... / DVD released 03 September, 2007 at Optimum Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, PAL

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    45 Reviews
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      19.03.2013 11:40
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      A well made gritty drama steeped in everything British.

      This is England Film and DVD

      ----

      I watched this British made movie at last, after putting it on the shelf for a while. It is a movie that has spurned to spin-off series in short form, with a third in the pipeline, waiting to be made.

      I am currently watching a lot of British made films to do with Football violence, racism, the eighties and the British gangster scene. There are some great little gems hidden away amongst the dross and this is one of them.

      As usual I will talk about the director, the actors and my thoughts after I have given you a short run-down of the plot.

      People mock the British film industry but it still holds true that when we get it right we make some of the grittiest dramas in the world and one thing for sure is that more often than not there are some damn good actors strewn throughout them who sometimes don't get the credit they deserve.

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      The Premise

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      Shaun is a twelve year old lad who has lost his father in the Falklands war and lives with his recently widowed mother in the north of England, somewhere in the region of Blackpool. He is being bullied at school for the flared trousers he is wearing. The year is nineteen eighty-three and Thatcher is in power and the Falklands conflict is still all over the news. After a fight at school, which was brought on after a comment about his father, Shaun is feeling down-trodden and persecuted. On his way home he bumps into a local gang of skinheads who are led by an enigmatic young man named 'Woody'. Woody takes pity on Shaun and invites him to join the gang. Shaun shaves his head and gets kitted out in skinhead clothes. He feels part of something and sees the gang as his friends, which they are. They are a peaceful bunch who just enjoy each other's company and they are no racist undertones (one of the gang is black) or fascist outlooks on life. Woody promotes the correct way of behaving and instils it into the group. They let off steam by demolishing a derelict house, which harms or matters to no one.

      The whole dynamic of the group and the movie changes when 'Combo' returns from a three year stint in jail. Combo tells his stories of prison and his racist views and nationalist insights cause the group to split. Woody and a few others leave but young Shaun is coaxed into staying by the convincing Combo.

      Shaun is taken to an English Nationalist meeting or the polite term for the National Front extremist group and things start to take a turn for the worse. Will Shaun realise his mistake in trusting combo before it is too late? Or have the seeds that have been sewn already taken root on an impressionable young mind?

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      The Actors

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      Thomas Turgoose as Shaun Field

      --
      Thomas is one of those gems that we often overlook in the acting world and he plays the part of Shaun brilliantly. He would also star as the same character in the later TV spin-offs, although unlike this movie he would not be the central role. At fourteen years of age he plays the central character in this movie with a maturity that belies his limited experience. I say maturity by way of the realism he gave to the role. The character he plays is only twelve years old so in effect is rather immature role to play, even for a fourteen year old. It would've been easy to blag the role and just play a kid, but he manages to portray the angst and hurt of a child that is alone in the world after losing his father with aplomb. I am really looking forward to seeing the series to see how the character evolves.



      Stephen Graham as Andrew 'Combo' Gascoigne

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      Stephen is five years younger than me and turned forty this year (nine days ago in fact), so I have basically grew up with him on the TV in programmes like 'The Bill', 'Where the Heart is' and 'Coronation Street'. He is probably best known for his role in Guy Ritchie's movie 'Snatch' and for his role as Al Capone in 'Boardwalk Empire' for which he has won numerous awards. You either love him or hate him and hate is usually the case for most of his characters; Combo in this movie is no different in that respect. One thing you can say about him is that the guy can act. I think he is one of the most underrated actors to come out of Britain in the last decade and I for one like him.

      What he brings to this movie is that excruciating reminder that people like combo actually still exist in the world today let alone in nineteen eighty three. He is a scary character, with a lot of issues and pent up anger at society and his country. Some of the more racist elements of the movie must have been very difficult to play indeed and it must have taken a while to wind down after some of the more brutal scenes and indeed would've taken a lot of guile to build up for.

      It is true that Stephen plays a thug well but let's not look past the fact that this is a very intelligent man who can really act and become the part he has taken on. He brings an experience to the cast and must have been invaluable to the likes of Turgoose when needing advice. He gets massive thumbs up from me.


      Joseph Gilgan as Richard 'Woody' Woodford

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      Most of you will recognise Joseph Gilgan from his role in ITV's 'Emmerdale' as Eli Dingle and he also played Rudy Wade in 'Misfits'. As with the rest of the cast in this movie he also reprised the role of Woody for the spin-off TV series. Woody is one of those characters that prove we should never pre-judge anyone or any given situation. Given the fact that he and his gang are skinheads, one would be forgiven for piling on the trait assumptions and viewing them as a stereotypical gang that go around being destructive and racist all the time. What Woody is in essence is an uncomplicated young man that wants to live life as simply as he can and Gilgan plays him really well and in the same uncomplicated matter. This is where most reviews of this movie fall down as they talk aboutShaun joining a gang of violent racists, when he actually does nothing of the sort. That only happens when the violent and racist Combo turns up.


      Andrew Shim as Milky

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      Andrew Shim has appeared in many of Meadow's films and shorts. He was the lead role in 'A Room For Romeo Brass' and this is what he is probably best known for. He also starred in 'Once Upon A Time In the Midlands', 'Dead Man's Shoes' and This is England. He even starred in a forty-second short by Meadows called 'The Stairwell 'which won some small awards. Milky was a tough role to play as he was the only black guy in a white group and also the victim of a severe racist beating. He has a lazy look about him in this movie and plays it with ease but this doesn't defer from the fact that the lad can act.

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      The Cast

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      Thomas Turgoose as Shaun Field

      Stephen Graham as Andrew "Combo" Gascoigne


      Joseph Gilgun as Richard "Woody" Woodford

      Jo Hartley as Cynthia


      Andrew Shim as Michael "Milky"

      Vicky McClure as Lorraine "Lol" Jenkins


      Rosamund Hanson as Michelle "Smell"

      Andrew Ellis as Gary "Gadget"


      Perry Benson as Ronald "Meggy" Megford

      George Newton as Banjo

      Frank Harper as Lenny


      Jack O'Connell as "Pukey" Nicholls

      Kriss Dosanjh as Mr. Sandhu


      Kieran Hardcastle as Kes

      Chanel Cresswell as Kelly Jenkins


      Danielle Watson as Trev

      Sophie Ellerby as Pob


      Hannah Walters as Shoe Shop Assistant

      Michael Socha as Harvey

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      The Director

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      This Is England won the Alexander Korda Best British Film at the 2007 British Academy Film Awards and earned director Shane Meadows critical acclaim and much kudos within the industry and across the water. Known for his drama film interpretations of Britain, such as 'Once Upon A Time in the Midlands' and 'A Room For Romeo Brass'. This is England is a great portrayal of Britain in the early eighties and something I can totally relate to as a teenage growing up in that decade. The film is well directed and Meadows has a way of following the chaos in an organised manner without taking away any of the raw edge.

      Meadows hails from Uttoxeter in Staffordshire not far from where I come from in Hednesford and also the birth place of my family dog that I grew up with. When he was younger his father found the body of a murder victim and was treated as a suspect before being cleared. Meadows was bullied at school due to this and left school without any qualifications. After being involved in petty crime he finally got himself together and studied film and then went onto making his own movies.

      There are many sneak shots and references in his movies about his beloved Notts County football club who he supports. Most of his movies are shot in and around the Midlands and his work is very reminiscent of some of Mike Leigh's earlier stuff in the fact that they are mostly dialogue based and touch on real life situations and characters.

      This Is England is very well filmed and there is some good photography used throughout the film.

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      DVD and Extras

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      This Is England is an eighteen certificate due to violence, bad language and scenes of a sexual nature.
      The DVd contains the following extras: Commentary with Shane Meadows, Mark Herbert (the producer) and Thomas Turgoose.

      Interviews with Shane Meadows and Mark Herbert.

      Behind The Scenes documentary with cast and crew.

      Auditions and Rehersals and pre-cast notions.

      Deleted Scenes and edit splices.

      Hair, make-up and design departments documentary.

      Cast biographies and essays.

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      My Thoughts

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      I enjoyed this movie and thought it was a great take on the year it was set in. let's not forget that it was filmed in 2006 but is set in nineteen eighty-three. The movie manages to pull this off with some success and it looks like it is the eighties during the movie. I'm sure someone somewhere will pick up on some small errors but if they have nothing better to do then that is for them to decide.

      I loved the opening to the film with clips from the early eighties, including Thatcher, The Falklands War, the protests and riots outside parliament, music clips, including the punk era and New wave, notably Duran Duran, The Rubiks cube, the BMX, the Atari console with Space Invaders on the screen, video games such as 'Missile Command' and a back drop high rise flats and council estates. There are also clips from 'Knight Rider', 'Roland Rat', Diana and Charles' wedding and the Iranian embassy siege that took place in Kensington in London. The night clubbing scene is referenced as are aerobics and the first CD's being pressed. Unfortunately, we also see the National Front marches and the racist attacks on innocent black and Asian families that were a big part of the late seventies and early eighties and still remain a stain on British history.

      I could relate to all this as I left school in eighty-four and bore witness to all these things and the many others that are referenced throughout the movie. So it was all very prevalent to me during the movie and at the time itself and brought back some very vivid memories.

      The film itself is really in two parts. It begins with a nice bunch of people who are ridiculed for their clothes and their short hair in reality. In the film we see them as decent enough with at least some boundaries and morals. It is only when the vicious 'Combo' comes onto the scene that the movie takes a different angle on the skinhead and some of the more unsavoury thought processes that some of them followed.
      The whole movie is back-dropped by SKA music and a few New Romantic and New wave tracks and features bands such as The Specials, The UK Subs, Dexys Midnight Runners, Soft Cell and Strawberry Switchblade. The soundtrack is something that I might look up and give a listen.

      There are a lot of racist elements to the movie and some very hard hitting scenes. The Falklands War is also talked about a lot and people's feelings about that and towards Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative government of the time.

      The acting in general is very good and the lead actors are superb. The editing is tidy and the whole film comes together really well. I am not surprised at all that Channel Four agreed to make a series based on the film. In 2010 'This is England 86' hit the TV screens and carried on the story of the characters from the film two and a half years on. It ran for four episodes. In December 2011 'This is England 88' was released and included three episodes. 2012 was to be the release year for 'This is England 90' but filming has been put back due to Meadows completing the filming on a Stone Roses documentary. The actors are all still waiting for the call to start filming.

      I am definitely going to watch the series and I am looking forward to it. I'm a big fan of 'Shameless' and can see the Made in England series being in the same vein but in an era I grew up in, which makes it even more appealing to me.

      I would recommend this to anyone who appreciates British film work and gritty dramas full of good down to earth actors who bear no heirs and graces and who are not paid a king's ransom to do what comes naturally to them.

      Four out of five stars from me.

      ©Lee Billingham

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        07.12.2011 20:58
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        Worth a watch

        This Is England is a film that follows a young boy as he becomes part of a violent and racist gang. The main character, Sean, played by Thomas Turgoose starts out as a child greaving for his father, but by the end of the film he is no longer the once innocent kid he was at the start of the film. The only reason that I watched this film is because I know the actor who plays the main character in real life, which I suppose did impact on how much I enjoyed the film and it definetly altered my opinion on the acting, because if i'm honest, Tom really is a mouthy little so and so in real life so I found it quite hilarious to watch him going around mouthing off because it didn't seem like he was acting at all!

        On the back of my copy of the DVD it sums the film up perfectly -

        This Is England tells the story of Sean, an 11 year old kid growing up in the north of England. Set during the summer holidays of 1983, it follows his journey from a shaggy haired ruffian grieving the loss of his father into a shaven headed thug whose anger and pain are embraced by the local skinhead praternity.

        The film is set in a small town (which is not named), shortly after the Falklands War. The film moves at a quick pace, we are introduced to our main character, 11 year old Sean and get a feel for his personality and home life straight away, and see that he is a very emotionally damaged child due to losing his much loved father during the war. He is clearly quite a naive and vulnerable child and I found it interesting to see his decent into a violent, racist, drink, drugs and sex lifestyle. The film starts with Sean getting into a fight (more than likely his first ever fight) at school after a boy (Michael Socha) who is clearly alot older than him makes a comment about his dad dieing in the war, which provokes Sean into attacking him. The fight is quickly split up by a teacher who gives each boy a whack around the ear'ole which I liked as I doubt you will find many films with a teacher hitting a pupil nowadays. On Sean's way home, he is spotted by a skinhead gang whos' leader, Woody, takes pity on him due to seeing that he is clearly upset.

        Before long, Sean is part of the gang. He inherits a skinhead, tattoo representing his new found racist views, and various new, violent friends which he sees as being brilliant - the once bullied, vulnerable child is now part of a well known gang with a leader so vicious that even grown men (including Woody) fear him. The ultimate leader of the gang is Combo, a man who is much older than the others who has a reputation for racism, fighting and generally being a horrible person with disgusting views on people who are anything other than English. Combo is by far my favourite character. He is played by Stephen Graham, an amazing actor who outshines the other actors by far.

        Sean's new found popularity doesn't last for long though and the gang soon comes across a few hurdles with a majority of the members now doubting if they really want to be part of such a brutal and strong minded organisation. Jack O'connell makes a brief appearence in the film playing a guy called Pukey, who is covered in tattoos, wears dr martens and is clearly a skinhead. Pukey dares challenge Combo and we get a taste of what is in store for anyone who dares question him. Other characters include a loveable, chubby character called Milky who is the only coloured member of the gang, a wise beyond her years Lol, who is Woody's girlfriend, and various others who all have their own little personalities which ultimately clash.

        The film as I said above does move at a reasonably quick pace, the acting isn't awful but it's far from brilliant, at times the characters deliver their lines in an odd tone of voice which sounds very unnatural and a bit too try-hard, and if i'm honest I was slightly cringing at points! The actor who plays Combo is flawless though and if it wasn't for him my overall opinion of the film would be much less than great. The soundtrack is amazing and without it, the film wouldn't be anywhere near as good as it is. The story is believeable as there is not over the top violence or storylines, everything that happens is believable which makes it that bit more shocking. I am sure a lot of people will not want to watch this due to the racist language used and the whole BNP kind of storyline however I do think it is quite interesting to hear people's different views and I do hugely disagree with their whole attitude towards on british people but I found it very intriguing to see the length that some people go to etc.

        Despite the somewhat disturbing contents of the film, there is bits of humour too, albeit dark at times. Woody is by far the most hilarious character ever, he's a real softy at heart and really takes Sean under his wing - he is like a father figure to him.. until Combo comes along.

        I loved the whole costume side of things, with dr martens, acid wash jeans, braces, and gangster type top hats. The scenery during the film is gorgeous too and it's shot almost like a piece of artwork. I didn't really like this film when it first came out, however since watching the follow-up tv series it has really grown on me. The film is an eighteen due to the language used and the violent/sexual scenes. My copy of the DVD has got various extras including:

        - Commentary with Shane Meadows (the director), Mark Herbert (the producer) and Thomas Turgoose (the actor who plays Sean).
        - Behind The Scenes
        - Auditions and Rehersals
        - Deleted Scenes
        - Interviews with Mark and Shane
        - Hair, make-up and design departments
        - Essays and biographies

        Overall, this is a decent film and although the acting and script isn't marvellous, the use of music and scenery really brings the film to life and the film is believable rather than being far fetched and ridiculously action filled. It is well worth a watch, and I give it 3/5 stars.

        The film can be bought from a variety of websites, supermarkets, music/film shops etc. I bought my copy from eBay for 99p.

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          03.12.2010 13:34
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          Powerful film that centres on racist influences

          Set in the early 1980s, This Is England is a disturbing, strong and powerful story of a young boy who gets involved with a gang of skinheads. Racial hatred, extreme nationalism and some stark violence form up this very well made film that is not for the faint hearted. With the recent TV series follow on showing on TV, it's something that has been in the limelight somewhat and has been critically hailed as an excellently made film.

          The direction from Shane Meadows pulls no punches, but it's not this that is the most shocking part of the film. The film centres around the young Shaun, an impressionable boy not yet in his teens, and it's the acting from Thomas Turgoose who plays him that is the most powerful part. You wonder at the impact such a script would have on such a young actor, and as you look around him, some of the other performances are so powerful and convincing that it really does start to worry you that people would take violence as the first option at times. We see such characters in films all the time, but This Is England has so believable a visual direction that it makes you feel as if it's all real. It brings it home when you see 80s style houses, clothing and the like in a regular back street setting in England, and it's somehow so much removed from the fantasy lands that Hollywood and other films usually produce.

          While Turgoose's acting is by far and away the most impressive part of the film, the role of Combo, the racist skinhead leader, is played by Stephen Graham in an utterly terrifying and convincing way. Graham is probably best known for the mild mannered and somewhat dippy character of Tommy in Snatch, Guy Ritchie's gangster thriller, and seeing him here in such a diverse and dangerous role makes you really elevate him in terms of acting stature. The actor only got his break as Tommy by chance, but I'm glad he did, as I can't imagine anyone else acting out Combo any better. He has the perfect balance to make it seem so real and effortless.

          At times, the film is very disturbing in terms of the threat and psychological terror that accompanies the film. There is violence, for sure, but it's the aggressive and bullying nature of the threat of violence that is the key here, and the fact that you know they're willing to use violence at the drop of a hat, and have such extremist views of what it is to be English. Naturally, it could easily spark off controversial discussions and arguments, and while it portrays extremists such as Combo as being excessive and bad, it doesn't actually say that the general message is a bad thing. It highlights the issue of immigration and national identity without completely making a statement either way. It puts it out there for you as a viewer to experience the potential extremism that there is, and to try to explain the potential reasons for this extremism. Very powerfully done indeed.

          Do I recommend watching this? Well, I wasn't sure whether I would actually want to see it or not, knowing the general subject of it, but I was persuaded to by being convinced of just how well amde it is. I am glad I watched, but I would say this definitely isn't a song for the fainthearted. It's disturbing at times, and controversial, and if this is a subject that you may find upsetting or disturbing, then it may not be the best film for you to watch. However, the direction, acting and presentation are very mature, and it's something I recommend you watch if you get a chance - just try and keep in mind, if you can, that they're acting, as at times they're so good it's terrifying. Recommended.

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            18.10.2010 18:28
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            A fantastic piece of cinema.

            Like millions of others, I tuned into 'This is England '86' - a television drama that was recently shown on channel 4. I enjoyed the TV series (even though it was very graphic in parts) and I was interested in watching the film that preceded it.

            This is England is set in the early 80's and it revolves around a young boy called Shaun. He is struggling with death of his father - who was killed during the Falkland's War and he's being bulled at school - but a chance meeting with a gang of skinheads on his way home from school turns Shaun's life around. He makes friends with the gang, he has fun and at last he feels like he fits in.

            However things change for the skinheads when Combo comes out of prison, he used to be a member of the gang, but he was locked up after he took the wrap for a crime that happy-go-lucky group leader Woody committed. Woody feels indebted to Combo, so he welcomes him with open arms, but their reunion is tense, Combo has developed some strong racist views while inside and gang member Milky is of mixed race, so everybody is on edge.

            Combo tries to recruit the skinheads to help 'protect England' and some of them follow his lead, but it soon become clear that he wants them to join the National Front. What will be the consequences for the gang?

            *** My opinion ***

            I think this is a great film because not only do you invest in the characters on screen (because they are likeable and human), but I also found that I could relate to some of the themes within the film - there's mass unemployment, people are questioning a war that they're not entirely convinced they should be fighting and immigrants are being used as a scapegoat for people's problems. I suppose this is a common cycle in England - when the country is in the doldrums, certain people start to blame anybody that is different from them for their troubles.

            It's obvious to me that the director of this film - Shane Meadows - got the actors to improvise within the film and the result of this is a that he managed to create a gritty, honest, realistic piece of drama.

            For me, the two characters that stand out from the rest in This is England are Shaun and Combo. Shaun is played by a young actor called Thomas Turgoose and he's very convincing in the role of Shaun - he plays the part of a young lad trying to find his place in the world perfectly. Combo is played by Stephen Graham and he is also fantastic - I thought that he performed the part with real grit and honesty.

            The skinhead gang is quite lovable and it's nice to see how they take Shaun under their wing, it's also interesting to see the reasons why certain members of the gang are persuaded to follow Combo by his racist rhetoric.

            There are strong themes within this film - including racism and some of the scenes are difficult to watch because they are so hard hitting, but personally I think this is a fantastic piece of drama. It's not often that you watch a film with convincing characters that you truly invest in and for me This is England was perfectly written, acted and directed. Five stars.

            *** Cast ***

            Thomas Turgoose as Shaun Field
            Stephen Graham as Andrew "Combo" Gascoigne
            Joe Gilgun as Richard "Woody" Woodford
            Andrew Shim as Milky
            Vicky McClure as Frances "Lol" Jenkins
            Rosamund Hanson as Michelle "Smell"
            Andrew Lewis Peter Ellis as Gary "Gadget"
            Jack O'Connell as "Pukey" Nicholls
            Kieran Hardcastle as Kes
            Perry Benson as Meggy
            George Newton as Banjo
            Kriss Dosanjh as Mr. Sandhu
            Jo Hartley as Cynthia.

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              12.10.2010 16:35
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              Must see viewing

              "This is England" is a 2006 British Drama film written and directed by Shane Meadows, a period movie based around 1983 in Central England it stars, Thomas Turgoose, Joe Gilgun and Stephen Graham.

              -----------------------------------------------
              The Plot:
              Shaun ( Thomas Turgoose ) is a 12 year old schoolboy who's father has been recently killed in the Falklands War, England itself is still in turmoil following the war and much of the country is disillusioned with prime minister Margaret Thatchers governing, also a worrying "Skinhead" racist culture is beginning to emerge.

              Shaun is bullied one day at school when another boy makes a joke about his dad, as such they end up in a fight and Shaun is sent to the headmaster, after receiving corporal punishment he is sent home, on his way home he runs into a group of Skinheads led by Woody ( Joe Gilgun ) who feel sympathy towards shaun and invite him into the group, before long Shaun is happy again as he finds himself integrated amongst new friends who largely are good people with his wellbeing at heart.

              An older Skinhead "Combo" ( Stephen Graham ) returns to the group after serving a prison sentence, he expresses English Nationalism and Racist views and attempts to attempts to push his views on the other members of the group, while a few want nothing to do with them, some others find themselves agreeing and joining Combo, including Shaun who while not harboring racist views, gravitates towards Combo and sees him as a mentor figure.

              And so Shaun finds himself growing up quickly and embroiled in a culture he may not emerge from unscathed, however events lead him to a crossroad.

              -----------------------------------------------

              "This is England" is a powerful piece of filmmaking that only a talented filmmaker such as Shane Meadows, also Meadows growing up in Uttoxeter and being from a working class background brings an element of realism to the writing and direction of this movie that only someone with that background could.

              Another ingredient of the movies success and quality is the performances displayed by the group of relatively unknown and talented young actors, in particular Turgoose displays a maturity rarely seen in an actor of his age and I predict big things for him in the future as you truly believe his portrayal of a grieving and easily influenced working class boy from Nottingham.

              Every piece of the movie is perfect, from the acting, to the gritty realism of the cinematography and directing to the wonderful period music pieces that fit in so well, using the locations they did in and around Nottingham were perfect, particularly the St Anne's estate area of Nottingham which has been plagued by economic deprivation, crime and declining social behaviour, all encapsulated by the events in this movie.

              This is England is must see viewing, regardless of your country of origin or background, its a powerful piece of filmmaking that grips you from the beginning and while you suspect how the film will end you never want to stop the experience of getting there

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                25.09.2010 09:59
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                An okay film that lacks a little something but is English through and through!

                This Is England is the highly acclaimed film by Shane Meadows that attempts to deal with the themes of racisim with a story set way back in the early eighties.

                Shaun is a young boy with lots of troubles. His father died in The Falklands Conflict and he is being bullied at school. On the way home one day he falls in with Woody's gang, a group of Mods and Skinheads who are united in their love of music, but when a former member returns from a spell in prison it fractures the group and causes a split between the friends. For where Woody preaches togetherness through a shared love of Ska, his former friend comes out preaching a message of hatred and fear and loathing! Combo sees foreigners, and more importantly paki's, as a threat to his nation's survival and Shaun being quite susceptible to influence soon falls in alongside him.

                With much in common with tradditional old-school British films like Kes or Gregory's Girl, whose influence can be seen through much of Meadow's work, the film is a throwback to an earlier time with much vintage footage of Thatcher and events of the time but feels almost as though it is missing a certain something. The elements of racism do not come storming in properly until the final acts of the film and there are l;arge chunks where, though it is visually appealing, not a hell of a lot seems to happen. In fact the film almost seems to be over just as it really starts to get going!

                Woody and his friends are all strong characters but the poroblem here is that we don't get to spend enough time with them! There are also some genuinely classic moments that include when one of the girls' asks Shaun if he "wants to suck her t**s?" and the end result is that though this is an enjoyable film to watch, one is left with the feeling that it never really goes anywhere with events unfolding without any satisfying conclusion....

                A series entitled This Is England '86 has just started on Channel 4 and aims to continue the story several years later. Hopefully this will give viewers a bigger insight into Woody and his friends and leave a more satisfying impression.

                As it stands, this is very nice to look at but seems to be missing some of the stuff that would make it truly great.....such as a more comphrensive and complete plot and more focus on the characters involved!

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                  09.09.2010 02:04
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                  Its films like these which make me feel proud to be a Brit in this lifetime

                  I specifically looked for this DVD because i had watched this film a while back and just like it had stunned me then, it still stunned me now. The story revolves around a young boy known as Shawn who joins a Skinhead gang who on the outside seem hard and tough but on the inside are actually a friendly group of Brits in the 80's having fun but at the same time just trying to get by.
                  However, a past member intervenes after having served time in prison and causes chaos as he introduces aspects of intense political racism and facism into the group. Most members such as Woody and Milky got out before they became hugely involved, the issue with Milky and his having to choose between his Jamacian ancestry and his British roots was something that many ethnic minority Brits could relate to and had in common with Milky.
                  The issues of the 1980's Thatcher era such as immigration policies, huge unemployment since the miner's strikes and lack of jobs, poverty and depression were issues which many of the audience members could relate to, especially those upon which director and producer Shaun Meadows decided to concentrate on as it coincided with his own upbringing and life experiences in his hometown Nottingham.
                  The unnerving and intense situations which occured were faced directly with no sign of feeling subtle or snidely hidden. No, Meadows wanted the jarring effects of the character's different attutides to similar situations to be felt intensely by the audience, to stop them from running away from life's harsh truths. Somthing that Meadow's little boy character 'Shaun' had to face without any euphemism or an adult talking slower for him to understand, no- he was practically dragged into a situation out of his control.
                  Symbolically (if you're into all that), i felt that the boy represented innocence and purity with no hatred towards anyone, only the death of his father slightly staining his presence. But, he began to be ingrained into the fragments of a tormented society in the 1980's where to stand out from the norm you need to be a Skinhead or to rebel against the government you need to hate others who were not akin to your skin colour, race or religion.
                  Slowly, he began to be cermented in dirt, until the ending (but i can't give that away, it wouldn't be fair to you guys out there) so i won't let the cat out the bag and spoil your evening.
                  However, there is a lot of obscene language, racist language and actions, sexual scenes and violent scenes. So if you usually steer clear of such content being placed in a film, then watch something else.

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                  07.09.2010 23:26
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                  A must watch film.

                  ***FILM REVIEW ONLY***

                  I watched this last night on the television and although I wasn't expecting to like it, I couldn't help but be drawn in by the story which is brilliantly told by

                  "This Is England" follows the life of Shaun, a 13 year old school boy who lives up north during the 1980's. Shaun is struggling after the death of his father during the Falklands War and is having to adjust to life without him. While struggling to deal with bullying at school, as well as trying to work out how to make his mark on the word, Shaun is befriended by a local skinhead group, lead by the kind and thoughtful Woody, who takes Shaun under his wing. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that he group is providing Shaun with security and protection, and perhaps more importantly, a sense of identity. While everything seems to be on the up when Combo, an ex-group member is released from prison and tries to rejoin the group but ultimately splits it as his motivation comes from National Front principles. Shaun is torn between his affection for Woody and his respect for Combo......and although Combo does protect and care of him, he is also responsible for a major trauma in Shaun's life.

                  This film is not so much about the story but about the characters. The film is very character driven, and as such, the main characters, particularly that of Shaun and Combo, are three-dimensional and very interesting. Clearly Combo is racist and often a nasty piece of work, but he can also be tender, loving and loyal - and this actually doesn't make for easy viewing. Additionally, although Shaun is sometimes frustrating through his naiveity and his desire to please - he is ultimately likable and we want to see him succeed.

                  Some of the themes of this film are uncomfortable to watch, particularly the overt racism purported by Combo and the extreme violence that Combo is involved in. The language is also very strong and could be offensive to many people. In addition to this, there is a scene where Shaun becomes somewhat intimate with a girl much older than him that kind of had me cringing and feeling like it was just "wrong". However, there are other themes of loyalty, love and identity running through the film which makes sure the film is not depressing.

                  I love the 1980's theme that runs through the film and as a child of the 80's I could identify with the music, fashion and issues of the day that serve as the backdrop to the film.

                  I'm really excited about seeing This is England 86 which starts tonight!!!

                  Overall, I enjoyed this film because I enjoyed its characters. They aren't all "nice" but the majority of them were interesting and likable. Its not for the faint-hearted though!!!

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                  30.06.2010 21:15

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                  the heart of england..this is england

                  Find where the real is..where England is at heart and most importantly why this film makes british people proud to be British!
                  Set in the 1980s where Thatcher was elected the prime minister, when Princess Diana married prince Charles, Kylie and Jason, all your children's favourites on the TV! Some of the greatest tunes were released, when fashion looked so funny!
                  Shane Meadows teaches audience what really is England.

                  Set in 1983, it is July, and Shaun is a normal 12 year old boy, but after getting into a fight at school, he is left lonely and powerless, he knows his summer holidays has turned into a rubbish start until on the way home he cumps into a group of skinheads cheer him up and changed his life to become a better, much stronger person. Shaun then acts like them, behaves like them, dresses like them, do what they do, do anything to be a part of them. However, his mother is not very pleased at the fact he is hanging out with men twice his age, but she is happy at the fact that they helped him through the bullying and helped feel a lot better. But does Shaun love his life as a skinhead? What is the true meaning of England? Where is England's heart at?

                  cast :

                  Shaun: Thomas Turgoose
                  Combo : Stephen Graham
                  Joseph Gilgun : Woody
                  Pukey: Jack O'Connell
                  Andrew Shim : Milky
                  Andrew Ellis : Gadget
                  Vicky McClure : Lol

                  director :Shane meadows
                  runtime : 101 minutes
                  certificate : 18

                  My overall view with this film is that I actually loved this film and I loved how it really shows us, England as a nation, as a country.
                  5 out of five stars

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                  08.06.2010 21:23
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                  A young boy looking for acceptance

                  Shane Meadows most widely known work follows a young boy named Shaun (Thomas Turgoose - who reportedly had to be paid a fiver to actually turn up for the interview), 12 years old without a father, recently killed in The Falklands. He's bullied at school and is friendless.

                  On his way home he meets a group of non-racist skin-heads. The leader Woody (Joe Gilgun - Eli Dingle in Emmerdale) takes a liking to Shaun and ends up bringing him out on adventures with his other friends, making Shaun finally feel accepted and happy for the first time since his father passed.

                  The film takes a turn when Combo (Stephen Graham in a truly superb performance) turns up. He's an older skinhead who's recently just come out of prison and one of Woody's friends. The gang realise prisons turned him breeding racist and English-nationalist views. The gang divides and Shaun, seeing Combo as a father figure, follows the racist skinheads.

                  The harsh reality of the National Fronts terrorisation of the local ethnic minorities is slightly desensitized compared to the actual events of the 80s, but this was due to Meadows trying to keep the certificate rating a 15. However, the film was still considered an 18 for it's content. Meadows had been trying to reach a younger audience to steer them away from ideological uneducated misleadings by the nationalistic right.

                  The film however is not preachy in any way. It's a beautiful showcase of human relationships in harsh times in the way only Meadows can do well. Not as good as Dead Man's Shoes, this film is still as hard-hitting and an exemplary example of independent cinema.

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                  09.05.2010 22:40
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                  All immediate and future generations can learn much from this telling

                  A Kick up the 80s!

                  I rarely feel settled by a violent film, though if it contains plenty of shootings and warped-reality special effects, it is easier to numb to it when too much action can create an involuntary diversion - I just fall off to sleep in the exact same way when a political broadcast suddenly monopolizes all the television channels with all its jabbering about stuff I'm not listening to.

                  However, my eyes, ears and mouth were all seized open at Kickers and all film, "This is England" that prised wide a stashed box of dangerously-raw delights most people would want to shove back from where it came - though it begged you not to for it's inviting barbed realism. Although the film itself is not a maiden voyage of its own kind, it is undoubtedly the first made film on skin-head subculture in Britain and by no other than celebrated filmmaker, Shane Meadows whose own childhood background was met with similar White-supremacy movements that inspired this triumphant victory.

                  Story:

                  "This is England" story and plot, begin in a bleak-1983 Thatcher reign year, during twelve-year old Shaun's school holidays. The setting is a miserable coastal town in northern England that is dead as it is still with few job prospects and starving seagulls ravenous for left over chips. Child, merging teen Shaun, mourns for the loss of his father who was subsequently killed during the Falklands war who he misses and needs as a key male role-model his 'out of touch mother' can't possibly fill the void, though provides plenty of concern. His lonely steps lead him to befriend a group of local skinheads that accept him right away bar the exception of 18 year old Gadget (Andrew ellis) who feels territorial as the youngest in the gang. Over the duration of the summer holidays, Shaun is lured and introduced into a joy eclipsed by pain lifestyle he finds some room to vent his own sadness and frustrations about being bullied during term time.

                  Plot:

                  The affection and kindness from group leader, Woody is truly graceful as Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) learns to place trust in others where it has lacked elsewhere in his short life. Each associate of the skinhead formation are accommodating towards him (especially Milky) played by Andrew Shim, the only Black member in the group who understands what it feels like to be on the receiving end of targeted hate, so they form a very close bond. However, things turn ugly when an ex-associate of the group psycho Combo (Stephen Graham) has returned from time spent in prison for crimes against humanity and sets about dividing loyalties within the apolitical gang, most of who do not support him in his allegiance to the British National Party. As he succeeds in recruiting the more vulnerable members, including Shaun, Combo is feared and loathed as an unpredictable unhinged character, who goes from one extreme mood to another. His friendship with Milky disturbs him and not for the more obvious reason that he is against everything that Combo stands for, but significantly because he is extremely likable. Towards the end of the film, Combo flips in the presence of his like-minded friends in which we witness the shocking unprovoked attack Milky is at the receiving end - the resulting conclusion ends with Shaun and his shattered illusion of Combo he turns to his mother for support and reassurance.

                  Objectives of the film:

                  The director's objectives with this film, exposes the issues of racism and how not all skinhead culture is based on extreme or violent views. No films before 2006 have taken on this kind of ambitious courage with the exception of one experimental youth-identity shooting such as 1995 "world of skinhead" kid-style documentary by Doug Aubrey that featured on channel 4. If you have never had the privilege of seeing it, then you aren't really missing out on a great lunch when all it amounts to, is a brilliant-poetic; romanticized modern-day version of skin-head culture from a contemporary perspective. As the earliest attempt at portraying disaffected working class youths culture in Britain, Aubrey included Americans in his filming that although was a refreshing contrast, missed the point of his own objectives entirely, as well as celebrating the overall enthusiasm of skin-hood by casting actors who proudly donned the skin-style fashion without necessarily understanding what it represents. It is a laughable parody that could easily have undermined the sociological and political teachings of "This is England" and other similar themed successes that have since followed, if it had have been manufactured within the last decade.

                  The director of this film Shane Meadows, is a very recent addition to the newly expanding film-drama media but his style is very much of the 'kitchen sink' realism introduced and developed by more mature film directors such as Ken Loach and Mike Leigh who both share the same appreciation for no-frills casting of real life struggle. Although Shane fits well between these two masters of film making, his approach is somewhat more tangible (reachable) due to the inclusion of an impressionable 12 year old boy living and surviving in a typically dysfunctional community searching for a sense of belonging and identity that the audience themselves can relate and possibly bring back people's own recollections of nostalgic childhood memories. Even though the essence of the actual film tackles violence, betrayal of trust, racism, some drug-use and an anti-establishment feeling, it is so much more than this that camera-genius, Chris Meneges's uses his cinematographic skills that "contributed to the fluid and gritty atmosphere of the play" that render it compulsive viewing.

                  The real-life depiction of English working class life, is captured with every ounce of honesty by Shane Meadows without necessarily moralizing or casting nets to make complex plots. The play does feature colloquial and graphic language (swearing) simply because it is unpretentious and genuinely mirrors the speech of that time in history that had few pleasantries in the midst of social unrest. Interestingly, Meadows appoints the disturbing brutalities of Combo's acts of sudden violence from another unique perspective. He executes the notion that passionate values or extreme political views do not usually culminate in terrorism alone, but more accurately, that some degree of emotional damage is inherent and triggered by stressful or challenging situations.

                  Positive outlook:

                  There is so much optimism even in this dirty bag of reality, that focus our attention upon choice of the informed kind, that characters such as Woody (Joseph Gilgun) and his girlfriend Lol (Vicky McClure) have learnt their own lessons of being in the unsavory company of over-familiar Combo who is angered by their enviable independence of his rotten influence. Lol had previously been taken advantage of by Combo whilst she was just sixteen and on his return from prison, attempts to rekindle a relationship with her he has entirely different memories. Her strength of character as Lol, is outstandingly courageous when she rejects his untoward invitations and tells him how it really felt to have been abused as a young person by a man she placed trust. Poignantly, this film is about strength in the face of adversity and where hidden depths of bravery can be found even when there has been injustice.

                  Both Lol and Woody and their associates, are driven to succeed in a time when depression and suicide were just as commonplace as today. For this reason alone, it is a real testimony to Shane and all of the cast and crew that picked the fruit and and displayed the best of it whilst the rest rotted in the background! - It is not an easy challenge to make even a dark film have whimsical moments such as when the introduction of impressionable 16 year old boy-George-esque 'Smell' (Rosamund Hanson) who takes the lead in showing Shaun the ropes in puppy- love with her Gothic-deep purple lipstick; luminescent Ra-Ra skirts and exaggerated crimped hair worn in an up-poodle bouffant. As the least comprehendable member of Woody's brigade, her overall aloofness is endearingly sweet and what Shaun finds attractive about her, even though at 12, he is sexually inexperienced, but is eager to get started with a girl at least on a kissing basis. Perhaps Meadows intention was to demonstrate the innocence of nativity? - My assumption of "Smell" is that she has a mild-learning difficulty whose own emotional maturity is not yet quite developed as often is the case in most vulnerable people (and) as I myself can identify.

                  I tried not to read too much into this part of the film when I could easily have made an error in trying to interpret the nature of "Shaun" and "Smell's" seemingly benign friendship (despite) the four-year age difference between them. However, the inclusion of this relationship between the two in the film did remove me from the more harrowing themes covered and was a nice shift-tactic of the producers that gave it the 'kick' that it needed and at a timely juncture just before the arrival of released-convict Combo.

                  Kickers:

                  Perhaps one of the most amusing scenes in the film, was when Shaun had pleaded with his mother Cynth, to buy him a pair of the latest "Kickers" - the highly recommended skinhead footwear that dominated the youth culture of the late 70s and early 80s. The relationship between Shaun and his mother had already been made fraught given that she had made him wear a pair of downtrend cord flairs to school before the summer holidays for which he was bullied. Cynth played by Jo Hartley, did a wonderful job at personifying the 'jumble-sale' personality that she ultimately became after the death of her husband that left her in great depths of poverty and chain-smoke depression. Shaun tries to communicate his needs and wants for the fashion of the time to little or no effect until the "Kickers" boots scenario came about.

                  Shaun had been transformed by Woody and Lol who gave him a symbolic shaved head, then the full Skinhead regalia (minus the boots) by dangerously generous Combo who saw Shaun as his protégé and clone him as a smaller version of himself. To fully fit in, Shaun has to have the essential Dr. Martin spin off boots his mother reluctantly bought at a local shore-store after he throws a spectacular tantrum that exposes Cynth as a bad, uncaring parent who has no idea of what it feels like to be left incomplete by a developing look. This was the first instance in which we see both Shaun and his mother reach some kind of understanding between one another.

                  Makers and cast and other information:

                  Directed by Shane Meadows; Produced by Mark Herbert and written by Shane Meadows.
                  Starring: Thomas Turgoose; Joe Gilgun; Andrew Shim; Vicky McClure; Stephen Graham; Rosamund Hanson; Jo Hartley
                  Music by Ludovico Einaudi (provides plenty of SKA jiving sessions)
                  Cinematography: Gonzalo Fernandez Berridi
                  Editing by: Chris Wyatt
                  Studio: FilmFour and Warp Films
                  Release date: 27th April 2007
                  Running time: 101 Minutes
                  Budget: £1,500,000

                  Others included in the making of this film: cast, crew, casting department, wardrobe and costume; editorial department; music and transport expertise; coordinators and executives (the list goes on) is far too comprehensive for me to include. However, the great majority of cast are all fresh starters so cannot make any references to them.

                  This is England 86'

                  If you enjoyed this fantastic film as much as I did, then you will be pleased to know that Shane Meadows has already begun the process of making a spin-off/sequel TV series to his 2006 drama "This Is England" in which there are four episode series, titled "This Is England '86", and will be Meadows's "first TV project that will follow on from the conclusion of the acclaimed film" in which Shaun's association and allegiance with the skinhead culture, begins swiftly being taken over by a white nationalist movement, which I am more than positive will deliver an equally fascinating performance if the some of the main cast are included. Meadows states that the "concluding series is timely as many of the issues that were prominent in the 1980s are still relevant today. And continues to add that:: "Not only did I want to take the story of the gang broader and deeper, I also saw in the experiences of the young in 1986 many resonances to now - recession, lack of jobs, sense of the world at a turning point. Whereas the film told part of the story, the TV serial will tell the rest."

                  Conclusion:

                  "This is england" is a pulse-haltering experience that In my view, is well worth it's value at retail or bargain price. My bought copy cost me just £5.00 from HMV in the sales in February 2009 and yet paid more on films that did little to stir any reaction in me. I am eager to witness the spin-off episodes that will ultimately conclude the entire film that to my knowledge, assumed had nothing left to tell. A very special feature of the film that rendered it convincingly real is the archive footage of Margaret Thatcher and other famous people, captured at different junctures throughout the film which makes it a priceless 'live-tabloid' that any cultured film enthusiast would not miss out on.

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                  03.05.2010 22:05

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                  A great British movie

                  As a film fan I feel British films are always worth a watch and this one is well worth watching.

                  It is a gritty tale of 11 year old Shaun who struggling to find his way in the world following the death of his father. He finds his way into a gang of local skinheads and is taken under their wing.

                  At first he feels much happier and as though he finally belongs but soon a particularly violent and threatening member of the gang is released from prison. His return signals the beginning of trouble and the film takes a darker turn.

                  The film is set is Northern England and is brilliantly cast and set, portraying 1980s Northern England perfectly, looking at gang life and racism. Thomas Turgoose plays the young Shaun brilliantly, convingingly displaying the trials and tribulations of growing up in such an environment.

                  Thsi film is very violent at times and may not therefore be everyone's cup of tea but if gritty British films are your thing then give it a go!

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                  19.04.2010 20:35
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                  So England is purely a nation of bigot thugs? Hmmmmm............

                  Written and directed by Shane Meadows "This Is England" is a violent film portraying the skinhead gang culture that was released back in April 2007.

                  ****Story line****

                  The year is 1983 and Shaun ("Thomas Turgoose") has recently lost his father, which has made him in to a confused, angry and highly-charged child. School is not going well and Shaun finds himself the target of many bullies. After a particularly hard day at school Shaun meets up with the local "skins" gang consisting of Woody ("Joseph Gilgun"), Milky ("Andrew Shim"), Gadget ("Andrew Ellis"), Banjo ("George Newton"), Lenny ("Frank Harper") and Lol ("Vicky McClure").

                  Woody takes pity on Shaun, and despite Shaun's tender age, takes him under his wing and invites him to the join the gang, much to the disappointment of Cynth ("Jo Hartly"), Shaun's widowed mother. The gang use Shaun as their lifelike Barbie doll and turn their new recruit in to a smaller and younger version of themselves and a "mini me" is born.

                  The gang continue their binge drinking, vandalising, terrorising, robbing, smoking and drug taking way until Combo ("Stephen Graham") descends on the gang. Unbeknown to the gang Combo and Woody go way back and Combo's plan for Woody and the group backfires somewhat as the group disbands and loyalties divide.

                  Whilst Woody and his aides disappear back to the streets, Combo has bigger ideas for his newly formed gang and starts to influence his opinions on them. Things don't go smoothly as Combo's mental state takes a turn for the worse.

                  Does the group re-unite with Woody as their leader? What happens to Combo? Is Shaun destined to be a skin for the rest of his life?

                  ****My opinion****

                  After doing a bit of channel flicking I stumbled across this film on Freeview the other night and in the absence of anything else (television really has gone downhill) I decided to settle down and watch this offering that I had heard of but knew nothing about.

                  Before the film started the commentators stated that "This Is England" contained strong language and scenes of violence that some viewers may find upsetting", and before the film commenced after every commercial break this message was re-iterated. From the opening five minutes it was clear that this film was going to be extremely violent and contain many profanities. Foul language is best served with emotion and there are times when this combination is required to give a bit of 'oomph' to the scene. However, there are times when foul language just isn't needed and this film contained many of those moments. Foul language has never really bothered me, although I did feel that there was just too much in this film.

                  I appreciate this film was meant to depict what life was like in the eighties, and the general feeling around that time, but personally, I found the story weak, irrelevant, unrealistic and it didn't go anywhere. There was just no purpose to it and I really struggled to see what the point was or what the producers were trying to put across. After all, the skins made up such a tiny percentage of the population how could they truly portray what life was like? They were such a small minority and this film focused solely on them. What about the other groups in society? This film is purely one sided with a lot of bias and with no balance whatsoever.

                  The time frame covered in the film was far too short and I didn't find it thought provoking or intelligent at all. It was just mindless drivel, although I did watch it to the end. I have to admit the only reason I watched to the bitter end was out of curiosity to see how the film was going to be drawn to a conclusion, and once it had finished I have to admit that I was very disappointed with such a poor ending. I actually felt quite cheated that I had wasted 101 minutes of my life watching such rubbish.

                  The cast is a group of relative unknowns and overall the acting is OK, but then given the topic of the film and the way it panned out the cast didn't really need great acting skills for the roles. This certainly isn't the film that is going to bring any potentially amazing actors to the attention of the public, and consequently there were no amazing performances, no scenes that blew me away and no scenes that made me think "wow", which was quite disappointing given the emotive issues covered in this film.

                  The soundtrack is weak and unmemorable, and sitting here writing this review after watching the film just two days ago I can't remember a single piece of music used. I think this goes to show the effect this film had on me.

                  This film gets a big thumbs down from me and I think it is poor in every way and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone and I would suggest that any viewers looking for a violent film look elsewhere since there are far better alternatives out there to watch.

                  ****Other****

                  Run time - 101 minutes
                  Certificate - 18
                  A BAFTA film award, 7 other awards and 14 nominations

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                    11.02.2010 18:04
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                    directoing and acting is very impressive.

                    Just to start off if you haven't already seen it, then rent it out!

                    The film is set in the 80's in Thatcher's England. Shane Meadows, the director, bases the film around his childhood experiences he experienced.

                    The films main character is Shaun played by newcomer Thomas Turgoose. He is a young boy bulled by a Harvey at school because of his flairs that remind everybody of free love and hippies, which is past its time. The 'In' thing is skinheads influenced by the multicultural 'Specials' who claimed to abolish black and white racism but as an out come it was unfortunately directed else where onto the Asian Community.

                    Once he meets a group of these Doc Martin, Brasis wearing skin heads who accept him for him, take him out and have a laugh, things seem to really be looking up for him. The group are warm modern and loving dispite age massive age gaps it seems that Meadows was trying to get across that age is nothing but a number and that friends as well as family are always going to be a different age but still carry the same love.

                    Things start to go wrong when Combo, played by Stephen Graham, comes back from prison. Stephen Graham I have seen in a couple of films such as 'Snatch' but never before have I seen such a good performance! He fits so well into this role that it put 'Russell Crow' in Romper Stumper to shame. The passion and violence that Graham unleashes through out the film is the most believably and powerful I have seen in film yet and it has such a resounding impact on you that this character disgusts you and you hate racism even more.

                    Combo preaches to the group about how England is for the English and how they need to 'sort out' the asian minorities. He takes a favor to young and influential Shaun whose father died in Thatcher's 'Pointless War' and manipulates him to become a younger version of himself. Shaun does so and see Combo as his main male role model

                    The group is split up and sadly Shaun is sent down the wrong path of racism, drink, cigarettes and fights.

                    The powerful and emotional film that gets you to the core and keeps to enticed the entire way through.

                    The thing I mainly like about this film is the directing. The use of camera work and editing I don't think has ever been used to such a perfect degree. The slow motion and the scenes of play with the group have the most perfect songs played over them that leave you speechless by the end.

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                    26.11.2009 13:33
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                    Slightly disappointing

                    This Is England is a 2006 drama from Shane Meadows, starring Thomas Turgoose and Stephen Graham.

                    It's 1983, and Shaun (Turgoose), a 12 year old boy has lost his soldier father in the Falklands War. After getting into a fight at school he is taunted on the way home by some skinheads, but when their leader Woody (Joe Gilgun) feels sympathy for the boy he is befriended by them and they take him into their group. Beginning to immerse himself in the skinhead culture of the time, he shaves his head and is given a shirt as a present by Woody. Finally feeling part of a group, Shaun is introduced to the old leader of the group Combo (Graham) when he returns from prison. Whilst inside Combo has developed racist beliefs and plays on Shaun's weaknesses. The peace loving Woody leaves the group with a few others but Shaun decides to stay with Combo and slowly starts to develop racist leanings of his own.

                    Loosely based on Meadows' own childhood, This Is England works best when it's focusing on the burgeoning relationship between Shaun and Woody's group. Offering an original insight into skinhead culture of the 80s before the image was hijacked by the far right, we see the group messing about and generally having fun. The film successfully evokes early 80s Britain through newsreels and attention to detail in the clothes and cars on show which gives the early, fun sequences a nostalgic feel. Obviously only having fun and games would leave the film with no dramatic weight, but I found once the story moved more into the motivations surrounding why someone is racist it didn't have anything new to add, and the final scenes involving Shaun are so heavy handed I was expecting the words, "RACISM IS BAD" to flash up on screen.

                    For me, the film's saving grave is it's acting. Turgoose as Shaun gives a great performance as the confused angry youth and it's surprising to learn that the then 13 year old had no acting experience prior to this film. Stephen Graham is generally great and is again here, thickening up his already scouse accent and providing a frightening performance of barely restrained aggression. Gilgun provides a warm character and the kind hearted Woody. Thanks to Meadows' tendency to allow improvisation during scenes there is a very natural feel to the scenes involving all the actors.

                    Thanks to the high standards set by Meadows previously with films such as A Room For Romeo Brass and Dead Man's Shoes, I've got to admit that a was a little bit disappointed with the end result here. That said, this is Meadows highest grossing film to date so it shows what I know!

                    Despite all this, thanks to the characters the actors helped create, I'm still intrigued enough to look forward to watching the TV sequel which is planned for next year called We Were Faces, picking up 4 years after this film to show us what's happened to the characters since.

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                    If there’s a more exciting and diverse a film director currently working in the UK than Shane Meadows, then it’s reason to truly celebrate. In fact, the sheer quality of Meadow’s own output is enough reason to be enthused, not least his finest film to date, This Is England. Set in the early 1980s, This Is England initially focuses on 12-year old Shaun (played by Thomas Turgoose, a real find), as he befriends a group of skinheads. Shaun bears the scars of the 80s, with his dad lost in the Falklands War, and his relationship with his new friends develops carefully across the first half of the film. But it’s in the second half where This Is England soars. It’s not easy watching, as is the usual drill with Meadows’ best films, From a stunning tirade about the state of Britain, to moments of real unease and tension, it’s a terrific piece of cinema, and one destined to enjoy a healthy life on DVD. It’s also one that should, if there’s any justice, provide a major career springboard for its primarily unknown cast, and one that should get Meadows far more of the recognition he absolutely deserves. Bluntly, not only is This Is England the best British film of the year. It’s a standout contender for the best film of 2007 full stop. It’s utterly superb, and it’d be remiss not to see it. --Jon Foster