This is England

Watched this movie in my record breaking (?) 30+ movie watch in the last 30 days. yeah, thats a quite a number. Been just doing work, surfing, watching movies and a bit of sleeping.

Caught this on DVD from my awesome video library called 'Habitat' on Church Street in Bangalore, India. The library offers me a wide choice of English, Hindi and European Cinema.

This is England is written & directed by Shane Meadows. Released in 2006, the film is set in the 80's where Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) a 12 year old who lost his father in the Falklands war lives with his mother Cynth (Jo Hartley) in England. The film commences with a montage giving you a view of the political and social scenario at the time. Margaret thatcher features prominently as a larger than life influence on the scenario.

12 year Shaun is new to school and is bullied for his short stature and oldish clothes. Missing his father and trying to understand the world around him, Shaun one day comes across Woody (Joe Gilgun) and his pack of friends who are what is referred to as 'skinheads'. They are good natured, misguided youth and have a Jamaican in their pack too in spite of their claim to 'skinhead' fame. Shaun now discovers a new world of jeans, Doc martin shoes, chequered shirts, suspenders and girls. All is fun and frolick till Combo (Stephen Graham) arrives on the streets, back from jail. Combo is a  radical skinhead who wants to do more than play hooky and vandalize abandoned buildings. The arrival of Combo splits the group and brings Shaun dangerously close to the militant racist community in England who believe the outsiders are taking away their jobs. Shaun who is teetering at the brink of teenage hood, is lost and wanders through this new experience finally leading to a intense climax and learning.

The movie reminded me a lot of American History X (remember Edward Norton in a beautiful performance as a 'skinhead' ?) but also differed in bringing to screen the innocence and confusion of a 12 year old. Thomas Turgoose plays the role of 12 year Shaun brilliantly who is innocent, close to his liberal mother and yet fascinated by the hate speeches and militant racist gangs. The story is wonderfully scripted and takes you on a journey of sentiments as seen through the eyes of 12 year old Shaun. The performances all round are nice. The story is simple and non-pretentious. The film is a simple and in a way silent commentary on the socio-political atmosphere of the Thatcher era. 

I was amused and intrigued by the performance of the central character Shaun and also was thoughtful that most things have not changed much since then. A DVD worth getting hold of and spending a thoughtful couple of hours on. Is it worth watching ? One should watch, I would say. You decide !


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