I’d always thought this was a TV Series and nothing more than that, it was only revealed a couple of days before watching this that it was in fact a series of movies alongside a TV show. Having learnt of this, I decided I’d watch the very first This is England entry, and what a pleasant surprise it was.
One of the few enjoyable childhood performances in movies, since most of them act about as well as they drive; most should not do either. Thomas Turgoose’s performance as Shaun is a great role and he’s thoroughly enjoyable the whole way through. His performance manages to bring forth the innocence and impartiality of a child stuck with nothing to do in Thatcher’s Britain. Having this based on the experiences of director Shane Meadows is a great way of showcasing how much Meadows understands about the time period.
The rest of the cast serve the film well also, especially Stephen Graham as Combo; he provides a much darker, lingering side to the movie. It was inevitable that it would come out through at least one character, and Graham manages to produce this well enough throughout. Joe Gilgun’s performance as Woody contrasts this superbly and it all comes together so perfectly well. The clash and breakdown of a skinhead group is documented well.
A number of set pieces provide real shock value, especially in the last few minutes of the movie. All of this added together creates such a phenomenal experience that I can’t help but stay invested. By all means is this one worth a rewatch, mainly because, as amazing as it is, I seem to have forgotten it. No fault but my own, I do remember drinking heavily almost immediately after this one was over.
Not to flex my qualifications or anything, but my A-Level in British History makes me think This is England is not only an entertaining drama piece but also an accurate portrayal of the frustrated working class during this time period. Turgoose and the rest of the cast do a great job at bringing this one to life, and the direction from Meadows makes it all the better.