Out on DVD: This is England

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Written and directed by Shane Meadows. Starring Thomas Turgoose and Stephen Graham (Snatch).  Winner of the BAFTA Film Award for Best British Film. Nominated for the BAFTA Film Award for Best Screenplay.  Winner of the Best British Independent Film. Nominated for the Best British Independent Film Award for Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor and Actress, Best Technical Achievement (original music by Ludovico Einaudi).

This is England is set during Margret Thatcher’s reign over England, The Falklands War, and serious economic decline and unemployment in England. The film follows Shaun (Turgoose), a twelve year old boy who lost his father in The Falklands War, and his journey into England’s skinhead culture. When Combo (Graham) – the former leader of the skinheads – returns from three and a half years in prison, he is obsessed with English pride and purity. Needless to say, a schism occurs within the group of friends – some opt out of Combo’s crusade against “Paki-Bastards” (please excuse the racial slur), while others join him, including Shaun.

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The film is provides a look into the roots of racist thought and racist skinhead culture in England during the 1980s – primarily a result of the economic hardship of the time, according to the film. The storyline isn’t hard to predict, but, even though you can see the climatic scene coming from a mile away, it is executed perfectly. So perfectly, in fact, that I am tempted to say that the director wanted the film to end in a predictable manner that the viewer expected so that the tension could rise and build until it’s horrifying, amazingly delivered climax debuts. The film may be a bit predictable, but it still manages to daze you. And who said predictability was a bad thing?

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The acting is more than on par. The stars of the film, Turgoose and Graham, are especially good. There are brief, moments of cheese that could have been avoided by simply delaying the score by a second or two, but I can really only think of one instance at the moment; it’s not much to complain about.

Check out this film for the climax if for nothing else. The plot isn’t anything especially new, but the delivery is really worth noting.

B+/A-

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