England Is Mine
Time Out says
This early years Morrissey biopic doesn't have the music, but it's got a sarky, sharp-tongued streak of northern English humour
What’s it like to be a socially awkward 17-year-old genius waiting for the world to discover your talent? That’s what this early-years biopic of Morrissey before The Smiths – when he was still plain old Steven Morrissey, moping about with a battered Penguin edition of the ‘Collected Works of Oscar Wilde’ in his duffel coat pocket – wants to find out. It’s got a brilliant streak of sarky sharp-tongued Manchester humour, but is unauthorised, which means no Smiths music and no Morrissey in his own words.
Jack Lowden (‘Dunkirk’) doesn’t overdo it as Moz. He’s very good at the wit and articulacy of teenage Morrissey, who writes pompous letters to the NME during his lunch break at the Inland Revenue where he’s employed as the world’s least-give-a-fuck filing assistant. At his job interview his lip curls into sneer when the boss asks, ‘Do you have any auditing experience?’ ‘I keep a list of people I don’t like.’ Bigmouth strikes again.
‘England is Mine’ is full of the stuff that The Smiths later immortalised – meeting at the cemetery gates, clubs so rubbish you want to hang the DJ, the humdrum of mum and dad arguing at the kitchen table. The script struggles a bit to make all this interesting – working a crap job is, after all, crap. And there’s only so many scenes you can have of the future Morrissey sitting at a typewriter gazing at a poster of Oscar Wilde for inspiration. But there’s a jolt of electricity the moment Stephen meets Johnny Marr and emerges with his NHS glasses, quiff and bravado.
Cast and crew
Jessica Brown Findlay