This is England

by Chris Bertram on May 20, 2007

Went to see Shane Meadows’s much-hyped-by-the-critics “This is England”: last night. What a piss-poor film it is. Poorly acted, poorly scripted, and hardly redeemed by some really clunking cinematography. The film would be kind of ok as a drama offering on BBC2 (or BBC4) but insightful socio-historical document it isn’t. The action all takes place on a bog-standard depressing-concrete housing estate with the standard row of depressing-concrete shops (plus free-standing Pakistani newsagents) and — for those who don’t know — gravitates around the tensions within early-80s skinhead culture between two-tone ska fans and racist knuckleheads. Young boy with father-killed-in-the-Falklands (Shaun) gravitates to the cool(ish) multiracial ska crowd but then becomes seduced by boastful-but-insecure racist psychopath Combo, the movie then plods along to its predictable violent “climax”. Thatcher and the Falklands lurk predictably in the background. Redeeming features? The National Front meeting in the pub isn’t badly observed, but, in truth, it can’t have been all that hard to set up a little cameo involving dopey skinheads, tatooed bikers and fat Nazis in bad suits. TiE goes a long way to showing that, just so long as you make a film with a certain kind of subject matter, critics will give you a good write-up. Sit at home and watch old episodes of _Shameless_ or rent a copy of _La Haine_ : both are better acted and both offer more insight into their subject-matters than _This is England_.