This Is England (18)

Film

Drama

migrate.24520.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
Rate this
 

Time Out says

Wed Oct 25 2006

‘This is England’ was the title under which Humphrey Jennings’s 10-minute paean to beleaguered but indomitable British pluck, ‘The Heart of Britain’, was presented in the US in 1941. After showing the wreckage of Coventry and life in the shadow of the Blitz, the narration forecast that ‘the Nazis will learn, once and for all, that no one with impunity troubles the heart of Britain’. As the opening montage of Shane Meadows’s new film makes clear, the heart of Britain was troubled in 1983. Cross-cutting between Roland Rat and Maggie Thatcher, rioting and the royal wedding, it’s a nifty scene-setter for a deft, heartfelt local story in which the nation is at a different kind of war, and violent bigotry is not an external threat but literally wraps itself in the flag.

Grieving a father lost in the Falklands, lonely 12-year-old Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) is taken under the wing of a local skinhead gang, which includes the dryly charismatic Woody (Joe Gilgun), appealingly dippy Smell (Rosamund Hanson) and cheerful Milky (Andrew Shim), whose parents are Caribbean. As in any pack, there are pecking orders and face-offs, but the generous-minded ‘spirit of ’69’ prevails – until the older Combo (Stephen Graham) returns from jail exuding the stench of aggressive racism, which can’t quite mask the whiff of something lost, desperate and sad. Soon there is speechifying; vulnerable spots are exploited, lines are drawn and a summer of happy belonging mutates into something darker.

With his Nottingham-centric trilogy (‘Twentyfourseven’, ‘A Room for Romeo Brass’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in the Midlands’) and 2004’s ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’, Meadows has created a body of unmistakably English work, but ‘This Is England’ is the first time nationalism has explicitly underpinned the action. Drawing on the director’s own experiences, the film offers assured insights into the pleasures and wages of tribalism, and the ease with which both the urge to belong and individual insecurities and resentments can be grievously spun into political capital. The St George cross initially seen on a poster of the England squad on Shaun’s bedroom wall becomes a coddling blanket of self-justification, then a badge of self-loathing.

If Shaun’s progress can feel a bit schematic and there’s the odd formal lapse into melodrama, these are outweighed by Meadows’s confident pacing and the superb performances of the young ensemble. Turgoose marvellously captures that awkward stage of early adolescence where a yearning for self-determination can’t quite stretch to independence – he goes to buy bovver boots with his mum – and Graham ensures that Combo is pitiable even at his most vile, while the rest of the gang – many of whom studied together – are relaxed, enjoyable company. The film also pays tribute to the music whose enjoyment initially marked skinheads as early adopters of multiculturalism. Even Combo retains his love of ska – a capacity for transcendence that rhymes with the scenes in Jennings’s film in which a Huddersfield choir sings Handel and Beethoven at the height of hostilities.
0

Reviews

Add +

Release details

Rated:

18

UK release:

Fri Apr 27, 2007

Duration:

100 mins

Users say

0
<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:11
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|28
1 person listening
Delta Dawn

Didn't get to see it all from the beginning but was quickly caught up watching it; a mixture of horror and compulsion - how bad could it really get. Like many gritty British movies, eg Nil by Mouth is another one; it portrays the narrow and utterly hopeless existance of the, often uneducated, poorer sectors of society. Lives governed by drudgery, little hope, escapism in drink, drugs, violence and all repeated from generation to generation because they cannot let a fresh breath of air or concept or ideal enter their world Essentially it is less than animal level existance - as animals rarely exhibit such cruelty but merely respond to hunger and fight over territorial issues. Makes me wonder if there is always an underclass, and believe me, I don't like throwing the 'class' word around and certainly don't do it from a sense of superiority - but there are tiers and hierarchies, naturally so in human nature. Some people are born more developed than others, more conscious, more spiritually inclined, and thankfully they advance the case for the human race. If this were not the case then we would all be lost. I would rather be dead than live in, condone or be powerless to change a situation such as portrayed by this movie. Can one feel sorrow for somebody in the face of their ignorance and sub-human behaviour? Can we really say 'it cannot be helped; their circumstances and history made them this way ... then what of those who escape; whose basic, intrinsic conscience or humanity is not obscured and deadened, and they go on to do something with their lives. Actually I can't be bothered to spend time on the subtleties of the relationship between Shaun and his 'mentor' although it was moving to watch the hand of support being extended 'as he himself was there once too'. However what good is friendship when it is based on 'you're either with me or agin me' or between people, families or humanity where no higher governing principles exist to do the the sacred nature of all human life; whereever, whoever race or colour. This is why we have wars, nationalism at its most corrupt and awfulness. This film gave us a microcosm of the macrocosm that is life on our planet today because mostly humans have abdicated from their spiritual potential and my goodness the results are corrosive at all levels. As my old auntie used to say, at the end of such a spiel 'i wonder where it will all end'!

Delta Dawn

Didn't get to see it all from the beginning but was quickly caught up watching it; a mixture of horror and compulsion - how bad could it really get. Like many gritty British movies, eg Nil by Mouth is another one; it portrays the narrow and utterly hopeless existance of the, often uneducated, poorer sectors of society. Lives governed by drudgery, little hope, escapism in drink, drugs, violence and all repeated from generation to generation because they cannot let a fresh breath of air or concept or ideal enter their world Essentially it is less than animal level existance - as animals rarely exhibit such cruelty but merely respond to hunger and fight over territorial issues. Makes me wonder if there is always an underclass, and believe me, I don't like throwing the 'class' word around and certainly don't do it from a sense of superiority - but there are tiers and hierarchies, naturally so in human nature. Some people are born more developed than others, more conscious, more spiritually inclined, and thankfully they advance the case for the human race. If this were not the case then we would all be lost. I would rather be dead than live in, condone or be powerless to change a situation such as portrayed by this movie. Can one feel sorrow for somebody in the face of their ignorance and sub-human behaviour? Can we really say 'it cannot be helped; their circumstances and history made them this way ... then what of those who escape; whose basic, intrinsic conscience or humanity is not obscured and deadened, and they go on to do something with their lives. Actually I can't be bothered to spend time on the subtleties of the relationship between Shaun and his 'mentor' although it was moving to watch the hand of support being extended 'as he himself was there once too'. However what good is friendship when it is based on 'you're either with me or agin me' or between people, families or humanity where no higher governing principles exist to do the the sacred nature of all human life; whereever, whoever race or colour. This is why we have wars, nationalism at its most corrupt and awfulness. This film gave us a microcosm of the macrocosm that is life on our planet today because mostly humans have abdicated from their spiritual potential and my goodness the results are corrosive at all levels. As my old auntie used to say, at the end of such a spiel 'i wonder where it will all end'!

sam surl

Big Phil does however have a point about the date - I would have placed it in the late 70s/early 80s if I hadn'y known it was supposed to be set in 1983. Sam

sam surl

Big Phil does however have a point about the date - I would have placed it in the late 70s/early 80s if I hadn'y known it was supposed to be set in 1983. Sam

Sam Surl

Just finished watching this film for the first time and was looking for some intelligent reviews and stumbled across this site. Some of the contributions are fxxking priceless! Contrary to what some of your ignorant reviewers seem to think, this film is clearly not supposed to be a perfect reflection of life in early 80s Britain. What it sets out to do is to use this context to explore some universal questions, such when to stand up and be counted and the complex roots of hatred. For those that were part of these very real subcultures of the early 80s (as I was) the film also explores the drift of some white ska boys into the violent world of neo-nazi Oi skinhead culture - a very real reflection of what was happening at this time. As for Shaly's comment - oh dear! Apart from adding some glorious light relief, the relationship between Shaun and Smell is about teenage experimentation and is entirely un-sexy. Its poignancy lies in the fact that Shaun is as unprepared for this adult reality than he is for the rest of what the adult world has thrown at him. Oh and Rosa - the MIners Strike didn't start until 1984. This film has real heart and it is rooted in an England that I entirely recognise. I was one of the middle class ska boys that never bought into the racist sxxt of the NF. Sadly, as a teenager, I was also sometimes too weak to speak out when other hardcore skins talked about 'Pakis'. Shane Meadows has got is absolutely right. Sam

Sam Surl

Just finished watching this film for the first time and was looking for some intelligent reviews and stumbled across this site. Some of the contributions are fxxking priceless! Contrary to what some of your ignorant reviewers seem to think, this film is clearly not supposed to be a perfect reflection of life in early 80s Britain. What it sets out to do is to use this context to explore some universal questions, such when to stand up and be counted and the complex roots of hatred. For those that were part of these very real subcultures of the early 80s (as I was) the film also explores the drift of some white ska boys into the violent world of neo-nazi Oi skinhead culture - a very real reflection of what was happening at this time. As for Shaly's comment - oh dear! Apart from adding some glorious light relief, the relationship between Shaun and Smell is about teenage experimentation and is entirely un-sexy. Its poignancy lies in the fact that Shaun is as unprepared for this adult reality than he is for the rest of what the adult world has thrown at him. Oh and Rosa - the MIners Strike didn't start until 1984. This film has real heart and it is rooted in an England that I entirely recognise. I was one of the middle class ska boys that never bought into the racist sxxt of the NF. Sadly, as a teenager, I was also sometimes too weak to speak out when other hardcore skins talked about 'Pakis'. Shane Meadows has got is absolutely right. Sam

KerryAnn

F**king Ace Film When I Watched It I Was Peeing Myself Watching It Nd Yea Also I Do Think Tha Bit With Tha Boy Nd Girl Is Not Nicee Eww =s But Tha Bit In Tha Shop Was Soo Funny Nd Why Are People Ambassed By The Film ??? Its Perfetic To Be Ashamed Ov A Film Come On Get A Lifee It Truley Is An Insporational Film Haha !! Well I Gave It 5 Star Defo One Of My Fav's

KerryAnn

F**king Ace Film When I Watched It I Was Peeing Myself Watching It Nd Yea Also I Do Think Tha Bit With Tha Boy Nd Girl Is Not Nicee Eww =s But Tha Bit In Tha Shop Was Soo Funny Nd Why Are People Ambassed By The Film ??? Its Perfetic To Be Ashamed Ov A Film Come On Get A Lifee It Truley Is An Insporational Film Haha !! Well I Gave It 5 Star Defo One Of My Fav's

blue nose

Ace film,i used to hang around with kids portrayed in the film,most ,belive it or not have grown to be well rounded adults,some have fallen by the wayside. Bouht back memorys.

blue nose

Ace film,i used to hang around with kids portrayed in the film,most ,belive it or not have grown to be well rounded adults,some have fallen by the wayside. Bouht back memorys.

Sharon Azar

This is England is one of the finest films I've ever seen! Each character is multi-leveled and made the transition from one emotion to another with such exquisite timing and subtlety. The humanity and clarity in every scene touched my heart. I fell in love with everyone, including the director for his vision, intelligence and compassion. I will see this powerful film again and again. And the music!!! Wow!!

Sharon Azar

This is England is one of the finest films I've ever seen! Each character is multi-leveled and made the transition from one emotion to another with such exquisite timing and subtlety. The humanity and clarity in every scene touched my heart. I fell in love with everyone, including the director for his vision, intelligence and compassion. I will see this powerful film again and again. And the music!!! Wow!!

Rosa

Simplistic movie which fails to develop its characters in depth. We are left wondering what role the boys mother has in his life and what ever happened to the miners?the last straw was the over the top use of the F word by the top skinhead. it really was so osten it became a farse. ...so much so that I can only call this movie a shallow parody of events.

Rosa

Simplistic movie which fails to develop its characters in depth. We are left wondering what role the boys mother has in his life and what ever happened to the miners?the last straw was the over the top use of the F word by the top skinhead. it really was so osten it became a farse. ...so much so that I can only call this movie a shallow parody of events.

josh

Definately ONE of the best movies I have ever seen. Along with a few others, but I have seen loads and loads of films and this is definately in my top 5.

josh

Definately ONE of the best movies I have ever seen. Along with a few others, but I have seen loads and loads of films and this is definately in my top 5.

srew

Humphrey Jennings also made films and wrote books on a great variety of topics. Yet British films are always either about northern youth/music/drugs/violenace/working class real life or endearing/quirky/middle class sitcom (usually in London), so this is just another to add to the cliché pile. No doubt there will be hundreds more dreary copycat films to follow for the next decade.

srew

Humphrey Jennings also made films and wrote books on a great variety of topics. Yet British films are always either about northern youth/music/drugs/violenace/working class real life or endearing/quirky/middle class sitcom (usually in London), so this is just another to add to the cliché pile. No doubt there will be hundreds more dreary copycat films to follow for the next decade.

deano

Great Film Shows Exactly What British Life Is Like , The Bit In The Shop With Knife Was One Of The Best Bits Of The Film !

deano

Great Film Shows Exactly What British Life Is Like , The Bit In The Shop With Knife Was One Of The Best Bits Of The Film !

chris brock

a brillantly made british film. we are lucky to have such an excellent director, and a brilliant cast. a moving and challenging film..

chris brock

a brillantly made british film. we are lucky to have such an excellent director, and a brilliant cast. a moving and challenging film..