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This Is England '86 [Blu-ray]
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This Is England ‘86 will pick up with the lives of Shaun, Woody and Lol in 1986 – the year Chris de Burgh is at number one, Top Gun is filling cinemas, the World Cup is raging in Mexico and over 3.4 million Brits are unemployed. As Shaun sits his last school exam, the realisation dawns that adulthood beckons. It’s mid-80s England and he’s going to have to find his own way in the world. Life has dealt a surprise hand to his friends too and no one is quite where they thought they would be… Woody, Lol, Smell, Gadget… they are back and looking for love, a laugh, a job and something that resembles a future.
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When I heard that Shane Meadows was to head up a series sequel to the film 'This is England' I could see a glimmering spec of light at the end of the tunnel of TV crassness.
And thankfully Meadows delivers in spade loads. I'll be up front and say I've always been a fan of Meadows so this review although as objective as I can make it, will I'm sure be tainted a little with my admiration for Shane's work.
This is England (86) carries on from the film of the same name which largely centred around a lad (Shaun) played by Thomas Turgoose who lost his father in The Falklands War and who is being brought up by his mother. Very basically the film centres on how Shaun makes friends with a group loveable skinheads but then is also influenced by a more menacing right wing skinhead called Combo (played by Stephen Graham).
The television series moves the story on four years and although Turgoose is still one of the main players the story centres around Lol (played by Vicky Mc Clure) and the conflicting relationships she has with both Woody (played by Joe Gilgun) and Milky (Andrew Shim) together with her estranged relation ship with her mother and menacing father played by Kathren Dow Blyton and Johnny Harris respectively.
If your looking for drama you feel you can touch, together with characters and story lines you can empathise with then this has to be on your 'to buy'list. As always Meadows manages to make the ordinary very compelling and mixes both gentle humour and non compromising drama that will effect you emotinally in many ways.
Both Meadows writing and directing seem to bring out the most extrodinary performances from the casts he works with.
This is England 86 is no exception to this rule with wonderful performances from all of the cast particulary Danielle Watson, Vicky Mc Clure and Johnny Harris who have very challenging scenes to play in the series and who deliver them perfectly.
Meadows also seems to know when to hold the camera on a scene or an expression, keeping the dialogue to a minimum and letting the visuals deliver the emotion in certain scenes, Combo returning to his Mum's being a typical example of this.
I purposely haven't given too much away but it would be negligent of Me not to much that there are a number of scenes of a sexual nature that are very disturbing in the series particularly at the end of episode three.
Acknowledgements have also got to go out to co-writer Jack Thorne , co-director Tom Harper and Composer Ludovico Einaudi whose contributions all went towards making a wonderfully realised piece of drama.
I found myself laughing out loud, moved to tears and stunned into silence by 'This is England 86'. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Set amongst the mod revival in 1986, three years after the events of the movie took place, 'This Is England '86', a social commentary of the time, is as much hard-hitting as it is hilarious. You'll certainly feel a combination of mixed emotions if you watch the entire series through. There were moments which I struggled to watch due to their unpleasant nature, none more so than the graphic rape scene which took place in the third episode. This is ultimately a programme which moves and teaches, as well as making for good, realistic entertainment.
I watched this series on it's first transmission, and I'm glad to be able to watch them again on this DVD. As with 'This Is England', I instantly become engrossed in the colourful lives of working class kids Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), 'Lol' (Vicky McClure), 'Woody' (Joe Gilgun), and 'Combo' (Stephen Graham), each of them very much their own individual, and beautifully played the stellar cast. Actress Hannah Walters, who only briefly popped up in the film as the assistant in the shoe shop, is given much more airtime, the character name of Trudy, and she plays the saucy part to perfection.
I highly recommend 'This Is England '86' for fans of a good drama, as I do it's sequels: 'This Is England '88', and 'This Is England '88'. The direction by Tom Harper (eps one and two), and Meadows (three and four) is perfect, and the soundtrack of classic '80s hits is super.
This is a two disc set, with the first DVD containing the first three episodes, and the second featuring the final, as well as a batch of special features including audio commentaries (with Shane Meadows featuring over the third episode), behind-the-scenes footage, out-takes, and deleted scenes.
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