Shane Meadows: This Is England and Somers Town

Thursday, August 12, 2010 3:47 PM By Simon

This isn't, like, an examination of whatever, I just happened to watch these two movies back to back on the narcotic that is Netflix.

-Young skinheads in England, 1983, the height of the Falklands War.

-A little runt named Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), who's father died in Falklands, is welcomed into a group of apolitical skinheads, led by the sympathetic Woody (Joe Gilgun), who becomes a big brother figure to Shaun. So for the first half of the movie is basically the group fucking around deserted streets and buildings. This seems to be Meadows' specialty, making hanging out interesting. And it's cool then, because these aren't the type of British skinheads you'll see in TV movies, they're not going off on racist rants every five minutes, they're just teenagers with shaved heads and Doc Martins.

-Then, halfway mark, in comes ex-con Combo (Stephen Graham) and his be-mustached new meathead sidekick, just off a three-year stint for Woody. He is the type of skinhead you see in TV movies, all English nationalist and whatnot. His arrival soon splits the group in two, the ladies remaining mostly neutral while Woody, Milky (the only black one of the group, and whom Combo treats in a way I can't tell is veiled hostility, patronising, or genuine respect, at least at first), and some others, and everyone else sticking with Combo, including Shaun. It all gets very...

-It doesn't become two different movies, the same general air hanging-out-ness a thing? Now it is.

-The performances are great. Graham is incredible, playing the kind of guy who, when he has emotions, he has them hard. He is always on the brink of tantrum, his unstableness palpable to everyone but the person his hostility is directed at. Turgoose gives a lovely, raw performance, especially since he never acted before this, and his relationship with the group is pretty sweet--he's like everyone's baby brother, that kind of thing.

-The other actors, most of whom not given much to do, are good, mstly serving the sort of team dynamic more than anything.

-A beautiful film, and excellent soundtrack, funny and touching and all that.

-Two teenagers, runaway Tomo (England's Turgoose) and Polish immigrant Marek (Piotr Jagiello) haunt about the Somers Town area of London, with the vague goal of wooing a French waitress (Elisa Lasowski).

-Again, the typically plotless meanderings of Meadows' characters is made hypnotically interesting by the dialogue, the actors, he makes you care about the characters by practically inviting you to step through the screen and hang out with them. Tis interesting.

-The acting is good too, Turgoose playing what might be a more worldly Shaun, more aggressive, though still a hit with the older women (he has pinchable cheeks, see). Lasowski is good, with his limited knowledge of English (at least in the movie) making him seem all the more befuddled by his new friends antics. Or something.


Dan said...

Interesting thoughts on This Is England. I hated it myself. Thought it was completely pointless.

August 13, 2010 at 4:28 AM
CMrok93 said...

This is England tries a little bit too hard to be a very very dramatic film, but nothing, with race, or life gets accomplished within the film.

August 14, 2010 at 9:16 AM
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