Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Friday, February 01, 2008

This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2006)

12-year-old Shaun is bullied at his school because he's small for his age, because he has the wrong kind of pants, and because he doesn't have a dad. One day, on the way back from being picked on, he encounters a group of young skinheads who take him in completely, like him for who he is, and, with his lack of father and hard-working mother, become his de facto family. The group, lead by Woody (Joe Gilgun, who is singularly great and very attractive), accept and come to love Shaun as well -- even though he looks like he's about six years old, soon, he's hanging out with them, drinking beer and making out with girls. Until Combo returns; Woody's old friend went to jail without snitching on him three years ago, but prison has changed him into a vicious, angry, racist guy. Shaun falls under the spell of his beliefs, and the group is divided in two, with devastating results.

I honestly had to look up skinhead on wikipedia, because in popular culture, skinhead means nothing more than neo-Nazi now. But in 1983 England, when This is England takes place, it was a West Indian rude boy-inspired lifestyle and fashion style. In fact, one of the members of Woody's group, Milky, is Jamaican, a fact that leads him to be torn between his family and his lifestyle. Meadows' autobiographical movie portrays skinheads as more of a family culture than anything, but one that can and did go wrong with the wrong people. Combo and Woody's split is emblematic of a greater split in the culture as a whole. Shaun is swayed by Combo's political manipulation of the Faulkland War, where he lost his dad.

Everyone in the film gives a great performance, especially Thomas Turgoose as Shaun, who made me tear up more than once with his loneliness, and then with his absolute elation at having found a family. Vicky McClure, as Woody's girlfriend Lol, the mother of the group, is also outstanding. I actually could go on about every performance in the movie; if there's one movie that should have been nominated for a best cast performance SAG award, this is it. This is a touching, political, real movie about what it's like to be lonely, and what it takes to solve your loneliness. Highly recommended.


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Comments on "This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2006)"


Blogger Bob Turnbull said ... (9:43 AM) : 

And the music was terrific too...Not just the songs from that time period, but the piano score was just lovely. An example is in the final few minutes up until that close-up on Shaun.

Yeah, the acting was really solid everywhere. The performance that really got to me though was the National Front party member who spoke at the mini-rally. That felt just too realistic...And scary.


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