Another excellent film from Shane Meadows. I was 15 in 1983, and although I was never a Skinhead (I started off into metal, flirted with punk, dallied with electro before returning to metal and generally sticking with it) I've vivid memories of this era & this film is SO evocative, the clothes, the cars, even the shop fittings! Seriously, the production design is outstanding. This looks every bit as authentic as 1982's Made In Britain, ITV's well known Skinhead drama starring Tim Roth.
It's a strong film, very uncomfortable at times and many of the social issues addressed in the film are still relevant today, maybe even more so!
The acting is very intense & yet very, very natural as in Meadows previous movie, Dead Man's Shoes.
Don't expect the hardcore violence of Romper Stomper or the likes of Rise Of The Foot Soldier or Green Street - This is nothing like them - There is only one scene of explicit violence (although the build up to this is very disturbing) and viewers should not expect any scenes at all of rival gang wars with baseball bats & bike chains etc! It's very much grounded in reality, where even it's principal Skinhead 'villain', the fanatical Combo is shown to have flaws and weaknesses often missing from similiarly brutal characters.
Actually, the film depicts the Skins culture in a mostly positive fashion, where violence & intimidation was not the norm for many!
The language is VERY strong as you would expect and it shocks to hear a 12 year old boy using the F word liberally on film! Having said that, a walk around any high street today will soon erase that feeling!
Not giving anything away, but the ending is a little ambiguous; however 25 years on from 1983, many of This Is England's social problems are equally unresolved.
The score is very good, there's quite a bit of Ska & some Oi as the tone of the story darkens but also some excellent acoustic/orchestral pieces that really add feeling to the dramatics on screen - in much the same fashion as Shane Meadows previous work.
For anyone that liked: Made In Britain, American History X (nowhere near as violent as X) and the acting/direction of Dead Man's Shoes.
If you're just looking for punch ups, then this intelligent & provocative drama may dissapoint.