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English History X
This Is England (DVD)
Member Name: thedevilinme
This Is England (DVD)
Date: 29/12/07, updated on 07/01/08 (63 review reads)
Advantages: Well made piece
Disadvantages: Where are the kids parents in the storey?
With immigration and over crowding issues in the news right now, seemingly the same faces committing the same crimes garnering a predicable right wing backlash, heres an enjoyable and quirky 'dromedy' (drama-comedy) that wants to try and put some of those stereotypes to bed and remind you that this persecution has been around since the year dot, the Ancient Britain's not best pleased with those 'bloody Romans' pouring in and taken all our construction jobs on the roads! Indeed we are all immigrants by the laws of evolution and every man deserves a job. I think you know my thoughts on the right to commit crimes abroad though.
If you loved the excellent 'Dead Mans Shoes', Shane Meadows most recent hit, then you will probably dig this, his latest, again exploring similar themes of loyalty, loneliness and alienation in the British working classes. This one is set in more cliché British film territory of the ubiquitous northern sink estate, Meadows doing the seemingly obligatory 'council house' movie to complete his politically aware director's right-of-passage. 'This is England' is not quite as cool or violent as Dead Men's Shoes (lets be honest, the main reason we watched it) but well worth a rent. That boy Meadows is a class act and he's at it again here.
Written as well as directed by Meadows it can only mean the subject matter rings true in the director's heart, here the way the skinhead movement was hijacked by racist thugs in the 1980s. You write what you know and you know what you write is his mantra.
We again explore that angry and somewhat misguided right-wing working class patriotism that drives young lads to join these fascist gangs or be England football hooligans, or indeed join the army, so fighting for their country in the only way they feel they can. Here, Meadows opts for the turbulent and divisive 1980s to express that simmering white ghetto anger that festers in the impressionable psyche, the nagging need to be a patriotic foot soldier of some sort. I think the brilliant American History X and Russell Crowe's 'Romper Stomper' were the last two movies to really get hold of that contradictory frustration like the core topics has and again if you like that then you will love this.
11-year-old cheeky monkey Shaun (Tom Turgoose) is an only child, angry at the world after losing his dad in the Falklands War that rages during the time of the film. After being bullied at school, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with a group of skinheads, headed by the charismatic Woody (Joseph Gilgun), who takes the little rascal under his wing. These are not the type of BNP skins that have become the image of hate over the years but the guys that wore the braces and drainpipes for their collective love of Scar and Two-Tone music, very big at the time with bands like The Selector and The Specials.
With a Caribbean lad in the gang, Milky (Andrew Shim), bigotry and nationalism couldn't be further from the group of friend's mindset. So enter Combo (Stephen Graham), just out of prison after a three year stretch and very much the more traditional hate filled thug we associate with 'skins', his loyalty to Woody unquestioned after not grassing him up for longer sentence.
After an incident at a party the group is split down the middle, those who want to be more proactive on Britain's immigration policy by racially attacking Asians step forward. Never trust man who only has one ink in his forehead tattoos. Woody decides the gang was all about the music and takes half away from the cancer within. Combo is so impressed with little Shawn that he makes him his right hand man (with the emphasis on right) in the new splinter group. Shawn's loyalties are split like Woody's but impressed wit his new status in the group. But there's one big problem: Milky, a black British boy, is in the nasty group, accepted at first by Combo but going against the BNPs whole ethos, a situation Combo is clearly unsure about, but his peanut brain unable to compute...
Thomas Turgoose ... Shaun
Stephen Graham ... Combo
Jo Hartley ... Cynth
Andrew Shim ... Milky
Vicky McClure ... Lol
Joseph Gilgun ... Woody (as Joe Gilgun)
Rosamund Hanson ... Smell
Andrew Ellis ... Gadget
Perry Benson ... Meggy
George Newton ... Banjo
Frank Harper ... Lenny
Jack O'Connell ... Pukey Nicholls
Kieran Hardcastle ... Kes
Chanelle Cresswell ... Kelly
Imbd.com scores it 8.0/10 (9,316 votes)
Right from the opening and political titles and images of this you're hooked, always a good pointer to a movie that has made an effort. With themes of honor, friendship and loyalty the gang culture seems to honor, perhaps things that can't be found in the kids peer groups, its no surprise that bond can be influenced and used for no good. Using the infiltration of the most ethnically diverse music scenes of the 60s, but placed in the 80s.this film is able to show you how all is not what it seems. The skinhead had essentially taken black culture and made it mean the exact opposite.
Little Tom Turgoose is amazing in this, apparently rejected for his school play in real life for being the little so-and-so he played in the movie. He had been bounced from drama club to drama club until Shane Meadows came knocking. Who says they will never come knocking at dooyoo to recruit some classy writers!
Also a special mention for Stephen Graham, 'freightingly' realistic as the right wing thug who cant decide if loyalty should over ride the color of your skin. Exploiting that cross over were people of color in Britain want to be British yet quite rightfully don't sever their ties to their country of birth through their traditions and culture is really what this is about. The hypocrisy of a BNP supporter enjoying black music culture but not Asians taking all the crappy jobs in Sheffield is what the film is really about. We pick and chose what we like in life, regardless of the contradictions.
Availabe to rent on the 3 for £7 deal at Blockbusters.
Summary: Shne Meadows doing it again..