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THIS IS ENGLAND, 2006
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THIS IS ENGLAND,    MOVIE POSTERTHIS IS ENGLAND, 2006
Movie Reviews

Directed by Shane Meadows
Starring: Thomas Turgoose, Stephen Graham, Jo Hartley, Andrew Shim, Vicky McClure, Joseph Gilgunr
Review by Russell Wray


SYNOPSIS:

A story about a troubled boy growing up in England, set in 1983. He comes across a few skinheads on his way home from school, after a fight. They become his new best friends even like family. Based on experiences of director Shane Meadows.

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REVIEW:

In 2006 audiences were flocking to the cinema to watch pirates battling and secret agents playing poker. Hollywood had once again lured people away into a fantasy world with it’s over the top characters and over used special effects. Reality seemed to have no place at the local Cineplex. That is until Shane Meadow’s returned after his previous success with Dead Man’s Shoes. The film he would use to battle Hollywood would be This is England.

This is England transfers the anger from Midland England onto screen brilliantly. The film is semi auto-biographical of director Shane Meadow’s youth. It looks at the high levels of racism in the eighties. Young Shaun has lost his father in the Falkland’s war. He is an outcast at school and is generally a lonely child. He meets a group of older guys in the street who he eventually becomes friends with. Through this group Shaun meets Combo, who has recently been released from prison. Combo is a follower of the British Nationalist Party. Shaun looks to Combo to replace his deceased father. Shaun is left to choose between morals or acceptance.

Meadows strives to bring extreme realism onto the screen. He uses many devices to do this. The most effective device is his use of improvisation to create authenticity within the dialogue. Meadows uses this device in all of his films but here he can truly utilise at because his characters are less exaggerated than in previous films. To create this naturalistic dialogue Meadows would write an outline for the scene and spend lots of time rehearsing with his actors before getting near a camera. Meadows would simply ask the cast to make sure they hit the main points of the scene but apart from that the cast have free reign. It is evident that this freedom gives the cast much more confidence and allows them to have more fun with the dialogue.

Meadows works as a story teller as oppose as an artist. His emphasis being on character and story rather than creating over complicated shots. Meadows is possibly the most honest director working today. His representation of the midlands is not flattering but realistic. For example, It seems there is a swear word said every few seconds but this sadly has become part of modern day English speech.

Working from a low budget does not make this film any less appealing. If anything that works in the films favour because Meadows knows how to make it work for him. Meadows made roughly thirty short films before he made a feature. It is obvious from this film that he has perfected the storytelling techniques. Here he also utilises the rough editing style and grainy camera look to once again bring out this gloomily realistic midland England.

From the performances that are generated in the film it is obvious that Meadows’ free approach to acting works tremendously. Thomas Turgoose is exceptional in his debut. It is unclear when Turgoose is acting and when he is not but he has enough charisma and cheekiness for this not to matter. Stephen Graham however is a true craftsman. He creates a character that is clearly troubled and dangerous. His explosive moments are to be remembered, however these moments are emphasized by the depth that Graham brings to the role.

Meadows works with a much smaller budget than the Hollywood films yet he utilises what he has brilliantly. He creates a story which is as funny as it is moving. Meadows has definitely put British cinema back on the map and continues to do so with sophisticated story telling. Meadows achieves an extremely difficult task of bringing naturalism to the screen providing entertainment to those of us that are bored by ridiculous plots and special effects.

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