A portret of England in the eighties: This Is England

Posted: February 6, 2013 in Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Director: Shane Meadows

Actors: Thomas Turgoose, Stephen Graham, Jo Hartley, Vicky McClure

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Set in the grim Thatcher-era of the eighties, the story of young Shaun isn’t a happy one. He lives alone with his mother since his father died during the Falkland war. Shaun has no friends and his mom dresses him in old clothes, for which he gets picked on in school. But all of that ends when he meets Woody and his skinhead friends. They take little Shaun under their wings, put him in a proper skinhead outfit and give his head a thorough shave.

The funny thing about his odd skinhead bunch is that they are a multi-colored mix. Apparently a quite common phenomenon in the English skinhead culture of the eighties. They seem more preoccupied about their surreal wardrobes and pulling  harmless, mischievous pranks on each other than they seem about having any extreme political ideas as you would expect from them. Shaun fits in great and is happier than ever. But things are about to get more serious when an old gang-member returns from prison to join their little group.

This is England is a extraordinary portrayal of a little piece of English history and a touching, sometimes funny story about a lonely boy at the same time. It is imprinted with the raw eighties-English atmosphere, not only through its cinematography and costumes, but also by a great soundtrack. Even though it was his first ever part in a movie, Thomas Turgoose’s portrayal of the cheeky but yet sensitive Shawn is outstanding.

Due to it’s critical acclaim in the UK, a spin-off series was created called “This is England ’86”, “This is England ’88” and “This Is England ’90”. It is set in the years after the movie and contains the entire original acting crew. I must say I’m very anxious to get my hands on those as I want to know how young Shaun turned out.

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