Movie Review: This Is England

This Is England poster

Set amid the depressed and desperate suburban squalor of Thatcherian England circa 1983, this semi-autobiographical film details the misguided adventures of a lonely boy who falls in with a band of skinheads. With a dead soldier father, an overwrought mother, and a lot of bullies at school, outsider Shawn, portrayed superbly by Thomas Turgoose, responds to the kindness offered by skinhead leader Woody (played by the lovely Joseph Gilgun. More of him, please!) and slips snugly into the welcoming multicultural family-like group. All goes straight to hell when Stephen Graham’s hate-filled Combo gets out of jail and returns to what he sees as his rightful role as leader. His introduction of fierce racial hatred masked as nationalistic pride shatters the group and sends the film careening toward its ultimate (and fairly predictable) conclusion. With such powerful subject matter, it’s disappointing that this film wasn’t better. But this is the first film I’ve seen that marks the differences between what skinheads originally were (a nonviolent social group that evolved out of the Mods and dressed in boots and classic working-class details) and what they became once their image was appropriated and perverted by neo-Nazis. The film deftly shows the contrast between the mischievous semi-innocent skinheads playing boardgames and breaking windows versus the organized antisocial bigoted seriousness of the supposed nationalist future. Grade: C

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One Response to “Movie Review: This Is England”

  1. Matt Langdon Says:

    I just saw this and thought the acting was really superb throughout. As you said it had a predictable ending, but great message. The way Woody was portrayed was brilliant – he led a non-violent protest due to his non-violent ways.

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