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This Is England (2006)

DVD Cover (Red Envelope Entertainment)
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Overall Rating 77%
Overall Rating
Ranked #889
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Thomas Turgoose
Thomas Turgoose
Stephen Graham
Stephen Graham
Jo Hartley
Jo Hartley
Andrew Shim
Andrew Shim
Vicky McClure
Vicky McClure
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: December 07, 2007
What a great little movie. Director Shane Meadows has been impressing audiences of the underground movie scene for a while now and "This Is England" might finally be his ticket into the mainstream - well, the independent mainstream. He takes a subject matter already explored in films like "The Believer" and "American History X", but manages to find something new to engage, and that's the journey of a little boy through the grief process. The film is intricately developed, as we are introduced to characters throughout who each have a hand in shaping the way the little boy comes to terms at the end of the film. We don't see what these kids are doing as dangerous, at first, and we actually kind of respect them for taking on the kid as a friend. Then, the film slowly starts to twist and turn down a dark corridor and we start to see what it really is all about.

In a fine performance, Thomas Turgoose stars as Shaun, whose father has died in the Faulkland Wars. It's 1983, and Shaun is not the most popular kid in school. The other kids make fun of his pants and his father, which automatically sends Shaun into crazy mode. One day, on his way home from school, Shaun meets a gang of skinheads, led by Woody (Joseph Gilgun), who befriend him and take him as part of their own. This opens up a whole new door for Shaun, who now finds himself accepted and a part of a group. But, these skinheads are not the violent ones you think of, or at least not in the way you might think. Then, one day, Combo (Stephen Graham) enters the picture after three years in prison. He is the stereotypical skinhead and wants the group of friends to join him. A few do, including Shaun, who thinks fighting for England is the only way to honor the memory of his father. This is when the real skinhead behavior starts, as most of these people just brainlessly follow the advice and orders of a person unstable to a spectacular degree.

This film paints a side of England rarely seen in the movies. But, it's not so much about the idea of being a skinhead as it is the story of a boy trying to cope with the loss of his father. Director Shane Meadows conveys this throughout the film, which is why is doesn't get bogged down in all of the stereotypical sub-plots that usually hound a picture like this. And, by doing that, "This Is England" turns into, quite possibly, the most affective film on the subject matter in a long time. Thomas Turgoose and Stephen Graham are just fantastic as Shaun and Combo, the latter deserving a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role, though it will never, ever come. The relationship they are able to create is very powerful and even very heartfelt. We see how Combo takes this kid under his wing and helps him, even though it is to commit such terrible acts. "This Is England" is a fantastic film and one of the standout tour de force experiences of the entire year.

8/10.
ThunderStruck5a #1: ThunderStruck5a - added 12/07/2007, 09:43 PM
really solid and enjoyable. 10
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