This Is England

Dir: Shane Meadows. 2006. Starring: Thomas Turgoose, Stephen Graham, Jo Hartley. English. Drama.
This Is England

Twelve year old Shaun is having a shite day. Upon arriving to school, he’s relentlessly taunted by his classmates. He gets into a fight with another boy and has to face the torturous principal. On his way home, he encounters a group of fun loving skinheads (not the Racist kind) who continue to poke fun at the small boy. That is until the leader of the group steps in and decides that Shaun needs a break.

The tenacious Shaun is quickly made a member of the tribe despite a little bit of friction from some of the other members. The group spends their days smoking cigarettes, having a few pints, listening to Ska and Reggae and committing petty acts of vandalism. Shaun finally has some people he can call friends.

Enter Combo (menacingly played by Stephen Graham). Combo is the former leader of the tribe who’s just been released from a stint in jail. At first, the kids are excited to have their old buddy back. But before too long, interactions with the older Combo become volatile and uneasy.

Due to his time in the clink, Combo has a new outlook on the Country he loves so dearly. Combo confesses his opinions about the Falklands War and his Nationalist views. Our precocious Shaun stands up to the elder, declaring that his father gave his life in the war in the name of his Country. Immediately, the threatening Combo gloms onto the child’s vulnerability. Combo then demands that the kids make a choice:  stand up for your Country or turn the other cheek.

Most walk away from the threatening ultimatum. Not Shaun. He’s finally found the father figure he so desperately yearns for. It only takes a short while before Shaun realizes that Combo’s ideals may not be so noble. After a very disturbing and saddening conclusion, Shaun turns his back on his new life.

Directed by Shane Meadows, This Is England is a wonderful character study about the awkwardness of adolescence, the need to fit in and ultimately, friendship. With amazing performances from fourteen old Thomas Turgoose and Stephen Graham (who you might recognize as Tommy from Snatch) we catch a glimpse into an era that was defined by culture, style and social differences.

Posted by:
Travis King
Mar 3, 2008 3:10pm
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