Film: This is England 18 rating Year: 2007
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Country: UK Genre: Thriller
Director: Shane Meadows
Starring: Thomas Turgoose, Stephen Graham, Andrew Shim, Jo Hartley, Vicky McClure

Also see our Guide to Shane Meadows, or visit our Shane Meadows UK or Shane Meadows USA store, plus our reviews of Shane Meadows other movies Dead Mans Shoes, A Room For Romeo Brass and TwentyFourSeven

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This Is England Synopsis - This Is England is set in the Midlands, England in 1983 and follows the story of Shaun, a twelve year old boy who is something of a loner. When he is befriended by Woody and his gang of skinheads who, although are a few years older than Shaun, make him feel welcomed and that has friends and belongs, (especially when the gang kit him out in skinhead threads). Shaun is finally happy. Later the gang is joined by Combo (just released from jail after doing time for Woody) but almost immediately he tries to recruit the gang into joining him in praising the racial hatred espoused by The National Front. Most of the gang want nothing to do with Combo or his views, especially since the skinhead gang are not rascist and it even has a black member called Milky. Shaun is in two minds whether to leave with the gang or to stay with the powerful Combo, but when Combo talks about the Falklands conflict (where Shaun's dad lost his life) he and Combo bond and Shaun decides to stick with him. Combo takes Shaun and the reduced gang to a National Front meeting and here Combo becomes even more aggressive with his beliefs, and Shaun is in danger of being dragged along with the hatred.

Review of This is England - This is England is Shane Meadows best film so far. An autobiographical film based on his own childhood and set to the backdrop of the Falklands conflict, mass unemployment, the erosion of power within the unions, and of course the skinhead movement which had partially splintered between the closely bonded Black and White together ethic of Two Tone and the far right neo-nazi skinhead. It is very brave of Shane Meadows to lay open this part of his life, which affords us a perspective of the pressures of youths to fit in and their need to belong. The story is very much a coming of age story as we see Shaun get carried along with the excitement of being in a gang, and then having to face up to considering what the evil intentions are behind the right wing retoric. What the film most skillfully achieves is the balance between the story of one young boy caught up within a maelstrom of a rasicts hatred, and the state of England at a time when the outlook was bleak, which allowed such extreme views to be cultivated. This film doesn't neccessairly tackle the issue of racism straight on, but instead allows the nonsensical ideology free reign to tie itself in knots and choke itself in its own stupidity. This is England looks certain to be Shane Meadows biggest success so far, it was extremely well received in international film festivals at the end of 2006, and its UK release in early May 2007 has seen receipts exceed those received for all of his other films put together.
The reasons I recommend This is England are: 1. An amazing performance by first time actor twelve year old Thomas Turgoose. 2. An excellent and very powerful script. 3. The soundtrack, as ever with Shane Meadows films, is superb -mixing big Ska beats and mellow accoustic instrumentals (and a top cover of The Smiths song "Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want").