Saturday, 30 November 2013

Review : This is England


A story about a troubled young boy growing up in 1980's England. When walking home from school he comes across a group of skinheads, They become his new friends even like family. It is then he embarks on a journey of understanding about the world he lives in. Based on the life experiences of director Shane Meadows. 

'This is England' is absolute pure drama from start to finish. I'm sure the majority of adults living in this country have seen this film. By now shadow of doubt. Shaun Meadows takes his life experiences and incorporates them into one character, a small boy called Shaun who's played by Thomas Turgoose.

Shaun lives with his mum, in a suburban estate. His dad was killed in the Fawlanks War, life at school for him is tough, he's a boy becoming a man. Mods, New Romantics, and Skinheads are the major youth sub-cultures of English summer of 1983.

12-year-old Shaun is left wandering aimlessly during the start of his school holidays, until his chance of meeting Woody and his fun and friendly Skinhead pack. Finding a new lease of life; girls, parties, Ben Sherman shirts, Doc Martin boots and shaven hairstyles. 

Life during this summer holiday has got a whole lot better. That is until Combo arrives on the scene. He embraces a bitter, dangerous, racist, militant and psychotic life for young Shaun as he has just approached his first major crossroad.

I think Shane Meadows did a terrific job on this film, seriously It's so powerful to watch. All the dialogue and interaction between each character is so good. Though it basis's itself off the journey of one character, all the surrounding characters help assist to tell the story.

The Soundtrack to 'This is England' is current to the time in which it is set. The music I think is the key to setting atmoshpere, and that's why I think music and soundtrack is so important to a film. Though a lot of music in this is slow and develops a mood, it flows well into the scenes and creates an atmosphere.

All one has to is watch the opening title sequence to film and get connected, not just by the video footage being shown but by the song in the background. I felt the Soundtrack helped a lot, and there's a great sense of control in when music can be stripped down, and you have sound, just dialogue and acting and scenes are just played as they are, and the viewer can get the same feeling as they do to watching a scene with sound.

Here's a quick clip.

Now though the racial prejudice is strong in 'This is England' what Shane Meadows clearly points out is how racial prejudice was portrayed in the 1980's. Matters regarding racial prejudice are very different now compared to how it was in those days. It's very out going and emotionally put into perspective.

Shane Meadows seems to be deliberate in portraying a depression towards the 80's. I'm sure the 80's was a good decade, but considering the way things were going, as far as government and political terms were concerned you can sincerely beg to differ that things were not handled as best as they could have been.

In fact Combo makes a famous democrat and powerful speech in the film talking about life and how it is now. It's a very iconic scene and just for those reasons alone, he's talking about how the country is being over ruled by immigrants and that they should take back their country. It's it in all serious very eye opening and very much the old propaganda appeal for help.

Stephen Graham is fabulous in this film. Absolutely brilliant to watch, He makes himself the character of Combo. He brings the character and Shane Meadows words from paper to screen.

Joseph Gilgan as Woody, very good performance from him. The sort of happy go lucky guy, who likes to have fun with friends and go out and be a lad of his age, but when presented in the face of bigger people such as Combo he chickens out and feels uncomfortable around them. There's an uncertainty of 50/50 around Woody, and he brought that to the character, which is what makes his character so interesting.

Thomas Turgoose as Shaun, easily the best performance for me. In the whole film, he is Shane Meadows in the film. That's a trick not worth missing, he is the one that Meadows says 'All of my past experiences I will put into this character' all eyes are on Shaun. He is the one the viewers take an investment in the most.


So I've talked about Shane Meadows as a writer, what I wish to do now is talk about Shane Meadows as a directer, some people might think it's easy to direct something you've written yourself. When actually I believe that is more of a challenge, because there is a certainty and a vision to get every single bit of your script correct.

Luckily we don't need to worry, as we have confidence from the first five minutes that Shane Meadows creates, a very well executed piece of emotionally developed drama, with a good story and great iconic characters, which are still going strong today.

So overall I will give 'This is England'  8/10.

Thank You for reading this review.

NEXT MONTH IS CHRISTMAS MONTH, During the build up to Christmas I will review some of best Christmas movies of all time! 

Starting with 'Miracle on 34th Street'  I will post that review on Monday the 2nd of December 2013.

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