This Is England is an R rated 2006 crime and drama film directed and written by Shane Meadows based off of his own experiences. The film
centers during a 1983 summer in England in the times of Margaret Thatcher as first Prime Minister and the Falklands War. Shaun, a
fatherless 12-year old loner, becomes part of a friendly Skinhead group but things get more dramatic when dangerous neo-nazi Combo returns from prison. It’s an interesting change of scenery if you’re used to American-made films. The film deals with the times of mass unemployment and the xenophobia of the group of these Skinheads. We see how things are through the eyes of young impressionable Shaun. This film is not for everyone. Some love it and others dislike it. My opinion is right in the middle.
!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!
I’d have to say that this film is bit of a downer for me in the sense of its mood. At times it’s funny and good-hearted, but then it goes back down to the reality of things when Combo speaks his mind. There is some sense to what Combo believes in and that his country should be more fair to its citizens, at least first before foreigners. But Combo is an aggressive and broken person. His father among others have walked out on him so he knows what it’s like to be forgotten and to what Shaun is going through with the loss of his father. Having said that, Stephen Graham (Combo) delivers an outstanding performance. His energy is incredible. If there were ever an Oscar or a similar impressive award, it would go to him.
Director Shane Meadows does a well job capturing gang life in the early 80s in England and dealing with the ideas of being your own man, taking care of yourself and standing up for yourself and those around you. While there is tension with racism, the film isn’t too violent. Except that ending scene where Combo loses it with Milky. That was unfortunate.
I believe this film shows how things were and what it was like being in a gang back then. The girls, the parties, the Doc Martin boots, the Ben Sherman shirts and the short haircuts are all great touches to that time and an insight into a Skinhead gang.
I’m not sure about calling this film “Stunning and unforgettable. A work of art.” Perhaps unforgettable for the reason of seeing a 12-year old among these young adults behaving like them. I mean, it’s an unpleasant subject but for what it is, it’s good.
Thanks for reading my review!
– Nick Andersen