Learn more about this title's writer and director in as we put Shane Meadows In the Director's Chair...
This Is England [DVD] 
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United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Subtitles ), ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN (1.85:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Anamorphic Widescreen, Commentary, Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: Roland Rat, Margaret Thatcher; Rubik's Cubes, the Royal Wedding; aerobics, skinheads... It's 1983, and the schools are breaking up for summer. Shaun is 12 and a bit of a loner, growing up with his mum in a grim coastal town, his dad was killed fighting in the Falklands War. On his way home from school, where he's been tormented all day for wearing flares, he runs into a group of skinheads, who against expectations turn out to be friendly and take him under their wing. Soon Shaun discovers parties, girls and snappy dressing, and finds some role models in Woody, Milky and the rest of the gang. But when an older, overtly racist skinhead returns home from prison, the easy camaraderie of the group is broken, and Shaun is drawn into much more uncomfortable territory... ...This Is England (2006)
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Unfortunately as the series has progressed from this original film, the character of Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) has weakened somewhat. With the aforementioned Combo (Stephen Graham), Lol (Vicky McClure), Woody (Joe Gilgun) and Milky (Andrew Shim) becoming stronger. THEY are the real stars here. You feel their pain because their performances are so convincing. Overall all involved should be proud of what they achieved, and the attention to detail was spot on, even though some may disagree.
Uncomfortable to watch at times, due to the content, but it deals with real-life issues, that's what makes the whole production so compelling. An emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows. It'll make you laugh, it'll make you cry, and it'll make you wonder just how we got through those times - but we did. A brilliant production, well done Shane Meadows. Highly recommend.
The film centres around twelve year old Shaun (played by the talented Thomas Turgoose in his debut performance), a lonely, average kid growing up in Thatcher's Britain 1983. He is befriend by a group of older teenagers, they dress different to him, wearing punk clothing and shirts, and listen to reggae music. They take him under their wing, giving him a makeover and complete transformation. Shaun, now with a shaved head and friends is finally enjoying life, discovering girls and parties. All seems well until Combo (Stephen Graham on top form) arrives on the scene, he's overly racist, extremely dangerous, and has recently been released from prison. Shaun is suddenly drawn into a much dangerous and uncomfortable world.
Loosely based on Meadow's own childhood experiences, 'This Is England' is an excellent, gritty and hard-hitting movie. It brilliantly portrays the effect that gangs can have on a child, the corruption that sometimes comes with it, and the final, in this case tragic, consequences. With the perfect blend of drama and comedy, solid performances (particularly from Turgoose and Graham, as well as Joseph Gilgun, who has a natural knack for comedy) I found it all too believable, like watching real life.
For British film enthusiasts, do not miss this one!
There's a winning lead performance from 13-year-old newcomer Thomas Turgoose playing a put-upon lad called Shaun in the run-down Grimsby of 1983. His dad was a serviceman killed in the Falklands and he's perennially getting picked on for this, and for his horrible flared jeans which make him look, as one bully cruelly puts it, like Keith Chegwin's son. Sloping and moping his way home after a standard-issue school day of humiliation, Shaun gets waylaid by some skins in a dodgy underpass, but instead of yet more battering, the gang give him sympathy and understanding; they become Shaun's only friends, and with a new Ben Sherman shirt and number one cut, Shaun has new pride and a new identity. The gang's leader is Woody, and they have an African-Caribbean member facetiously nicknamed Milky; Shaun even finds romance with one of the group's girl-punk fellow travellers: a languid and rather elegant older woman called Smell who earnestly explains to Shaun's mum that she is called that simply because it rhymes with Michelle. The gang are civil if not exactly angelic. They smash up empty council houses for fun, and get stoned while listening to records. But they are not inclined to violence. The idyll is soon destroyed with the highly unwelcome appearance of Combo, a ferocious and sinister skin warrior just out of prison, played by Stephen Graham. He demands the group join his National Front cell, and turn out for an NF meeting in a tatty pub, addressed by one of the movement's suit-wearing officer class.
Turgoose is the picture's heart and soul, and it's a terrifically natural, easy and commanding performance. Turgoose's open face radiates charm, and then, when he goes over to the dark side of racism, a creepy, anti-cherubic scorn: almost like one of the little blond kids in Village of the Damned. But Meadows is always concerned to preserve a sympathetic core to Shaun, and in fact to all the skins. Even the deeply objectionable Combo is shown to be suffering from emotional pain. This Is England is his best film to date, an honest, emotional, funny and deeply moving portrait of growing up. Don't miss it.
What makes the film such compelling drama is how familiar the landscape is almost 25 years on
One remark relates on the ease with which Mum leaves Shaun going with the gang led by Woody, made up by people much older than him. I am not sure how much this is realistic, yet I guess it may happen.
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