This is a film I wish I had not waited so long to see, much like with another Shane Meadows film (Dead Man's Shoes) I really wanted to see it. However I waited, and waited and I felt I really needed to be in the right mood to watch it. So several years after it's release I finally got around to watching it, and I wonder, why? The film is excellent, my second Shawn Meadows film and I got to say this guy is amazing.
This Is England is apparently based upon experiences that Shane Meadows had growing up, the film focuses on a young boy Shaun. He is a bit of a loner, an outcast, lashes out at people, he does not seem very happy. One day after school he meets a group of skin heads, who basically take him under their wing. He finally has found a group of friends, they treat each other like family, but it does not take too long before things get a bit dirty.
Firstly I got to say that Thomas Turgoose who plays Shaun is a brilliant young child actor, what a performance he gives here. He is so convincing, it is utterly incredible, I got to give it to Turgoose and Meadows for creating the character of Thomas in the way that they did, because without this performance this film wouldn't have been quite the same. There was definitely a strong connection between actor and director, truly I was blown away by him. The other real stand out is Stephen Graham (Who was recently in Public Enemies) as Combo, the skin head who comes out of prison. What an amazing performance he gave, he is genuinely creepy as well and it works perfectly for the character and the inevitable climax. I was so impressed with what he did with the role, he really just became the character.
Shane Meadows is such a strong director, he gets amazing performances out of his actors. The shots he does are so well done, the scenes play out so well you just do not want to take your eyes off the screen. He has such charismatic performers to work with, the scenery really comes alive with them in it. His use of colours is very affective, he paints such a clear picture. He really is such a great talent, I can't really decide if I liked this better then Dead Man's Shoes, whilst they are very different films, he again just does everything right.
I find it hard to fault this film, it looks amazing, the acting is amazing, the script is excellent and Shane Meadows, well he's the man. There is a lot to take away from this film, considering its subject matter and all, you really just want to help this kids realise exactly what it is they are getting themselves into. They come from poor homes, parents just seem rather clueless, it is a very realistic portrait of the place they come from. Considering this was based on his experiences I think it really shows, because it feels so real.