Release Date: July 27th, 2007 (IFC Center) by IFC First Take.
The Cast: Thomas Turgoose, Stephen Graham, Jo Hartley, Joe Gilgun, Andrew Shim, Vicky McClure, Rosamund Hanson.
Directed by Shane Meadows.
BASIC PREMISE: During the 1980s in England, Shaun (Turgoose), a young boy, comes-of-age when he joins a skinhead gang.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This is England has a compelling plot, but it could have been more absorbing film with a more focused and believable script. Shaun lives with his mother (Hartley) and, soon enough, joins a gang of skinheads. They do what most skinheads do which is smoke pot, curse and punch each other every now and then. When Combo (Graham) joins the gang, it splits up into two different gangs and Shaun prefers to go with Combo even though he’s very aggressive and racist. In a contrived subplot, Shaun comes-of-age when he meets Smell (McClure), a fellow gangmember who teaches him about sex and agrees to be his girlfriend despite that she’s a teenager and he’s merely a preteen. Writer/director Shane Meadows does a decent job including character development so that you care about Shaun, but there’s not enough information about his relationship with his beloved, deceased father who died in the Falklands War. Likewise, there should have been more scenes with Shaun interacting with his mother rather than scene after scene showing the gang taking drugs, yelling and cursing. The character of Cosmo seems the most complex given that most of the time he uses violence and racism, yet he protects Shaun like his own very own son. Had the plot focuses more on Shaun’s relationship with his mother and Cosmo, it wouldn’t feel so uneven. On a positive note, Meadows chooses a lively soundtrack with stylish cinematography and moves the pace at a fast enough pace so that it rarely drags at an appropriate running time of 98 minutes.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: One particular scene, when Shaun opens up to Cosmo in the car and confesses that he misses his father, feels surprisingly poignant and tender. Shaun’s experiences with the gang are not healthy for him psychologically, especially given that he’s just a child. However, through his mistakes, at least he learned how to stand up for himself and to strive to become a better person, much unlike Cosmo.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: An uneven, slightly contrived plot.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 2
IN A NUTSHELL: Stylish and compelling, but with an uneven and slightly contrived plot.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: DVD
The "T" Menu