Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “This is England”
By: Brian Cotnoir
If you’re a fan of independent films and drama, than “This is England” is a perfect film for you. “This is England” is set in England in the 1980’s during the Falkland War. The main character of this film’s name is a 12-year-old boy named Shaun, played by Thomas Turgoose. Shaun’s father was killed in the recent Falkland Island War and because of this, the other kids at school make fun of him. One day on his way home from school Shaun is stopped by a group of young sympathetic skinheads. Now, the skinheads in this film aren’t the typical skinheads most people associate with; the skinheads in “This is England” follow the “original” skinhead lifestyle, which is working class, shaved head, blue jeans, Doc Marten boots, non-political, and non-racist. The leader of the group of young skins is named Woody, and he acts as a big brother of sorts towards Shaun. Woody invites Shaun to join him and his friends, but some of Woody’s friends are very cautious about letting Shaun in, but eventually they accept him and Shaun becomes a fellow skinhead. Everything seems to be going good for Shaun until one day an older Skinhead named “Combo”, who was a close friend of Woody, comes into the picture. Combo has just been released from prison and shares his new “white nationalist” views with the other skinheads. Combo’s new political and social views prompt a split in the group and half of them leave, while the other half follow Combo. Shaun views Combo as a father figure and joins his new group of skinheads. Combo begins to teach Shaun in the others the ways and beliefs of a white nationalist skinhead by preaching and taking them to rallies. Shaun’s life appears to be going great until one night when Combo snaps and his perspective on everything changes greatly.
“This is England” is a wonderful film. It’s a great coming-of-age story that has good drama, and relates it to an actual time and place in history. Actor Thomas Turgoose does a great job as the young skinhead, Shaun and co-stars Joseph Gilgun & Andrew Shim also do a wonderful job as fellow skinheads Woody and Milky; they both made their characters very likeable and enjoyable. The music and the cinematography for “This is England” are also terrific. I think anyone who sees this film will like it; no matter what kind of movies you like.