This Is England - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

This Is England Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 4, 2007
A bit underwhelming, perhaps due to the big hype. Seemed like some good improvisatory acting but not much else.

Obviously, the skins do have some of the best music which helps any film. Toots rules.
Super Reviewer
September 23, 2007
Touching, funny, harrowing; "This is England" is a film of effortless power and a definite standout of British movie making in the noughties. An honest, street-smart screenplay (and autobiographical account) by Shane Meadows (Dead Man's Shoes) and the incredible performances of the young Thomas Turgoose and Stephen Graham (as one of the scariest ticking time bombs in recent memory) make for an unforgettable film and a mandatory viewing for anyone who appreciates gritty realism on screen.
Super Reviewer
February 1, 2012
This is Terrific.
Directors Cat
Super Reviewer
½ February 21, 2012
It's a very interesting movie and I can understand why some people would call it a masterpiece. I however thought it was good but at times a bit too gritty for it's own good. Unlike say, Four Lions, it didn't sympathise the characters enough and sometimes when the drama get's too serious, it get's a bit boring. This is England is a skillfully directed film and the source material has been studied in depth but a lot of people I guarantee will loathe it.
Super Reviewer
September 28, 2011
Ideologies, whether political or religious are, after all, created by man and are unfortunately vulnerable to man's foibles. This is all too evident in the film This Is England, where manifestos become fodder to the people who act upon them.

The film uses the Falkland War as a backdrop - one of the more ridiculous wars in recent memory. Good and loyal Englishmen died trying to keep a bunch of rocks halfway across the world in British hands - never mind that having those rocks has absolutely no value to the Brit populace.

We see an 11 year old boy, Sean (in a wonderful portrayal by Thomas Turgoose) whose father was lost in battle. Being fatherless and frequently bullied at school, he is looking for a place to belong, and perhaps, in a larger sense, looking for a father figure. As the film progresses both are provided. First he is befriended by the leader of a local gang, who appreciate the boy's moxy and quick wit. The gang members are all in their early to mid twenties and do typical bad boy stuff like smashing up the interiors of abandoned housing projects - hooliganism that really isn't hurting anyone.

But the gang and its leader have a past, which is eventually revealed when the leaders "mate" comes back into town after a 3 year prison stay. It then becomes known that the gang are (or were) skinheads, not the Americanized, Nazi loving brand, but more of a nationalist movement (in fact, there is a meeting in the back of a bar with posters urging support of the Nationalist Party). Combo, the ex con (a very strong performance by Stephen Graham), claims that the skinheads are pro English, and not bigots (he reasons that the problem lies in all the Pakistani immigrants who are either on the dole or are taking jobs for cheap, thus robbing hard working English blokes of a decent wage).

Combo woos Sean into staying with his more hardcore version of the gang, while his mentor tells Combo that he's not buying the hype. Sean is duped by Combo who tells him that he's got to stand up and make his father's death have meaning.

Eventually a father/son bond develops between the two, only to be shattered when it is revealed that Combo isn't who he purports to be, leading to a heartwrenching and powerful closing scene that reveals a certain inner strength and gives gravitas to the title.
Super Reviewer
½ August 9, 2011
I would level this movie up with American History X. It delivers the same message in many ways. They acting is very good for a bunch of no names, I sometimes forgot I was even watching a movie!
Super Reviewer
June 23, 2011
Outstanding film. There are too many words to describe how good this film is.
Super Reviewer
½ May 11, 2011
A well made but creepy and bleak outlook of the lives of a few teenagers growing up in 80's England. Not my sort of film but it was interesting to take a look into the history of my country. I believe that this is how it would be up North as the director came from there and I don't doubt his sincerity.
Super Reviewer
½ June 11, 2007
This IS England. I've never seen a film that so completely sums up a place and time as this one; an England in a time before the internet, DVDs and Playstation, where the only outlet for bored teens was music and the tribal camaraderie that accompanies it. The plot is not the best you will ever see, but this is one of those films where the plot is not the point; it skillfully side steps cliches and stereotypes and constantly defies jaded expectation. It has an understanding of humanity and what drives it that very few do, and presents it perfectly. Every single character is completely believable and it attempts to understand the motivations behind even the most despicable character. Even the hardcore nationalists are not demonised, but shown exactly as they are; a bunch of ignorant, self-important bullies who look to everyone and everything but themselves to blame for their own failings and problems. Much has been made of the performance of young Thomas Turgoose, but for me it was Stephen Graham as Combo who really impressed. My only reservation was that much of my enjoyment derived from the huge wave of nostalgia for my childhood and the years growing up in the eighties it provoked, so I'm not sure if it will translate to foreign audiences. Both beautiful and ugly at the same time, it's emotionally affecting, frightening and incredibly well observed. What British film making SHOULD be about.
Super Reviewer
July 18, 2009
Cast: Thomas Turgoose, Andrew Shim, Stephen Graham, Kieran Hardcastle, Frank Harper, Jo Hartley, George Newton, Jack O'Connell

Director: Shane Meadows

Summary: Set in 1983, this semi autobiographical drama from writer-director Shane Meadows follows a lonely 11-year-old boy named Shaun as he grieves over the recent death of his father, who was killed fighting in the Falklands War. When he falls in with a gang of young skinheads, Shaun's pain and anger make him susceptible to carrying out the group's hateful agenda, exposing a dark side of modern Britain not often seen in the movies.

My Thoughts: "This movie, for me, was a learning experience. I'm not the most informed person when it comes to the skinhead culture, or that there was different types of skinheads. So it's a film that definitely left me with new knowledge about the era and how it started crossing the line's of hate. The movie is very well done, with impressive performances from Thomas Turgoose and Stephen Graham. Shaun obviously sees a father figure in Combo, and Combo sees his younger self in Shaun. I found the relationship between Shaun and Smell to be quite disturbing. I'm astounded at how angry the mother was about her son having a shaved head, yet had no complaints about her eleven year old having a tattoo or dating a much older girl. But then again maybe she just feels very strongly about hair considering how fantastic her's looked. Seriously though, the film is very interesting, thought provoking, and brutally honest and raw. The character's are believable and make you care for them. Even Combo. A must see British film."
Super Reviewer
February 10, 2011
There is no doubt that this film is a truly great piece of film-making. Shane Meadows crafts films in the same style as Martin Scorcese. We are given a glimpse into the lifestyle of a group of characters over a short period of time. It is very much a fly on the wall type of movie. The point of these films is to understand the actions of the characters rather than judging their actions. I have no doubt that there will be some people that tag this film as being racist which is rather missing the point.

The film follows Shaun a 12 year old being borough up in early 80's England. He has lost his father in the Falklands war and suffers bullying and isolation until he is befriended by a group of skinheads. The happy band are challenged when Combo is released from prison. Thomas Turgoose is magnificent in the lead role and the direction/screenplay are also spot on the mark. For anybody that lived through the period there are lots of reminders about the period. The film is based on Meadow's own childhood and is quite mesmerising at times.

I was gripped throughout the film and it also gave me plenty to think about afterwards. What more can you ask for when going to the movies? I suppose if you go to the movies for escapism then go watch something else, but if you want a gripping thought provoking drama then it doesn't come much better than this. Outstanding!
Super Reviewer
January 31, 2011
I don't know why this came off as so bland, maybe because the skinhead/punk attitude has been depicted in a lot more ambitious ways. When you watch something like Romper Stomper, American History X or even Summer of Sam, they take you deep into the mindset of the lifestyle and mindset of the characters. They also manage to be more visually striking and the plot moves forward a lot more. This has character development and a decent story, it's just nothing new. Even the visual style is borrowed from Larry Clark/Harmony Korine. I think people who haven't been exposed to many movies like this will absolutely love it, but for me it just seemed to be the same old thing.
Super Reviewer
January 17, 2008
Loved the 80's setting in this. Film itself is very good, but disturbing. It deals with racism and it's effects, so some of it was hard to take (but necessary for the story).
I did find the bit with Smell a bit odd - what has to be a 16, (at least), year old getting on with a 12 year old boy, (who looks younger), but you kind of got the impression she wasn't all that bright, so perhaps the mental age was about the same (the actress who plays her was very good). Also really had to wonder about the mother - had a fit over the skin head hair cut and seemed to just not notice anything worse that her son was up to.
Super Reviewer
January 6, 2009
A terrific film that reminded me of American History X, only this one is even better. A little less polish, a little more heart.
Super Reviewer
December 26, 2008
"Run with the crowd, stand alone, you decide."

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.

With his gift for sly naturalistic dialogue, skillful use of music and ability to frame poignant beauty into shots of the everyday, Shane Meadows is arguably the finest film-maker working in England today; and 'This is England' is among his best works, its understated account of ordinary youths just hanging out in the recession of the 1980s perfectly judged. Out of this, a plot develops, based on the growing involvement of the gang in skinhead politics. This transition does feel slightly manufactured, as the story places its characters in a slightly artificial state of innocence and thus depicts racism as something external that descends upon them, rather than as something more innately part of the fabric of their lives. But Meadows shows his customary strength in his depiction of (in some senses) unsavoury human beings with sympathy where appropriate, and where not, still with humanity: at their least edifying, his characters are still 100% human. The acting, meanwhile, from an inexperienced cast, is consistently great. "Low budget" can mean quick and perfunctory; but Meadows makes visual poetry. It's a tragedy that this in itself is apparently sufficient to preclude his wider success.
Super Reviewer
October 2, 2009
A great British film, gritty and hard hitting and made on a shoe string budget. It doesn't matter the story and acting make this a very powerful film and it deserves all the awards and accolades it has received.
A young boy bullied at school joins the local skinheads in early 80's Britain, but the fun and games soon start to turn nasty and violent.
Super Reviewer
½ August 6, 2009
A violent gracefulness pervades Shane Meadows intimate semi-autobiographical story about White Nationalism in 1980's England.

You can feel the smooth sincerity of the film-making even amid the grit of its subject matter... which makes the film all the more endearing despite its seriously dark and alienating content. Meadows maintains a deep intimacy with the pulse of his setting that allows simple events to carry immense weight without need for over-dramatization.

Think of it as a grounded prequel to the "Clockwork Orange" which loses none of its visceral ambiance despite its sobriety.
Super Reviewer
August 27, 2008
I don't know, it's about everything: . . . suicide, despair, where did our hope go? Lost hope, that's it, lost hope. . . . Yeah, well, you think everything is boring. I mean, you know, you wouldn't say that if it was the Lost Hope Diet. The opening quote is not from this movie. It's from The Big Chill, where Michael is explaining to his People Magazine editor over the phone that he's got a good story line. His editor, obviously, thinks not. There will always be people who lose hope, in any generation, in any country. Mahalo, Elliot, for the recommendation. This is a very good movie. I don't know how they found Thomas Turgoose, but he is wonderful as the damaged son who searches for meaning after his father's death. He is one who is saved by a choice for goodness at the end. This is a very dark portrait of England's youth, and of course the title of the film comes from the impassioned speech for hatred delivered under the guise of nationalism. I love the way Shakespeare's St. Crispin Day speech from Henry V is used to color the actual anti-nationalism of these thugs. Another lost generation . . . I'm optimistic enough to say that Turgoose's character is not alone in making the choice for tolerance and non-violence. If the odds of that happening in real-world England were the same as in the world of this movie, England would be in a shambles by now. It's definitely not. Many more, like my niece and nephew and their chums in London, have made the choice for love, for peace, for tolerance -- for hope. Yes, there will always be people who have lost hope, but there will always be many more who choose not to do so. This is England.
Super Reviewer
½ December 1, 2008
Great film about someone trying to find their place in the world and falling in with the wrong crowd without being preachy and formulaic. The entire cast does a good job of being (and I hate this term) "real" people who you can relate to instead of feeling sorry for. The lead actor is great, but Stephen Graham stole every scene he was in for me. I have been told to watch more of Meadows stuff and I should have listened earlier (sorry Keith and Alex).
Super Reviewer
November 21, 2008
A fantastic film that deftly juggles several themes, and delivers stunning well developed characters. The acting is great especially for the young ages of some talent, the scenes have an undeniable realism to them, and the human drama is portrayed at the perfect level of ambiguity which exactly mirrors emotions and conflict in real life.

The film also captures the era well. From production design to the characters as commentary on their generations, few dramas deliver such solid and real situations. This film is an interesting immersion into a wholly unique culture, and the favor the director does for us is that one needs only observe to understand.
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