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Review of This Is England

In: Film and Music

Submitted By tianredis
Words 590
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That Was England
Review by anon
It is 1983, and England’s youth culture is filled with mods, new-romantics and skinheads. It is the start of the summer holidays for a 12-year-old boy named Shaun, who lives with his widowed mom. His dad, an army officer, died in the Falklands war. One day while he is walking home from the last day of school, where people have been picking on him all day for wearing flares, he stumbles upon a group of young, and surprisingly kind, skinheads. The leader, Woody, takes pity on young Shaun, and the skinheads take Shaun under their wings. There, a life of girls, parties, Ben Sherman shirts, Doc Martin boots and shaven hairstyles starts for young Shaun. All is good and well until one of Woody’s friends, Combo, turns up, fresh out of 3 years’ imprisonment. Combo soon creates tension in their little group and Shaun finds himself at some of his first major life decisions.
Overall, I found the movie really interesting. It had fascinating, complex characters, and you had to read between the lines to fully understand some of them. The plot itself was compelling although a bit fast paced, but that is to be expected when you have to tell a story like that in under two hours. It was interesting to get a glimpse into the skinhead culture of England during the 80's, and get to see how Margaret Thatcher's politicsadivided the nation.
The film crew behind ‘This is England’ captured the mood/atmosphere/feeling of the 80’s excellently with their rough editing, grainy camera style, and bleak settings. With the added soundtrack of Ska music, it was an exceptionally authentic portrayal of the 80’s.
Thomas Turgoose plays Shaun, the protagonist of the movie, and he manages to capture the cheeky nature of him really well, while still maintaining the sadness behind Shaun’s character. He effortlessly manages to convey an array of mixed emotions that is required for Shaun’s character.
Stephen Graham gives a terrific and complex performance as the character Combo. He really gives him the depth that is needed for the character. We feel both sympathy and disgust towards Combo, and we can thank Graham for this.
The actor Andrew Shim plays Milky, who, despite being in a gang of skinheads, is African-Caribbean. Milky seems to be one of the happier characters in the movie, even though he is shunned amongst other, more violent skinheads, such as Combo. Andrew Shim still does a great job at making Milky more than just a character, and manages to bring complexity to him.
Vicky McClure plays the girl Lol, Woody’s girlfriend. She is firm, but fair, and McClure really captures that. Joseph Gilgun portrays Woody, a cheerful, sparky guy. Gilgun easily manages to bring Woody to life with his cheery performance, with complexity in just the right places.
Rosamund Hanson plays Smell, or Michelle, who becomes involved with Shaun. She is not the sharpest tool in the shed, but she is still kind. Hanson is great at displaying her personality.
The actors did a magnificent job, especially considering that most of them were teens at the time. Thomas Turgoose especially stole the scene in his debut role with his magnificent portrayal of Shaun.
The movie focuses a lot on relations, identity and growing up. It also touches themes such as racism, violence and war. Although the themes may seem a bit dark, the movie manages to stay light with Shaun’s cheeky nature and a broad array of humour.

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