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This is England


Stars: Thomas Turgoose, Stephen Graham, George Newton, Joe Gilgun. Vicky McClure, Andrew Shim, Jo Hartley

Director: Shane Meadows

A run-down coastal town, 1983. Twelve-year-old Shaun (Turgoose), whose father has been killed in the Falklands War, escapes from bullying at school when he's befriended by a gang of local skinheads, whose anti-social behaviour runs to little more than smoking a few spliffs and wrecking uninhabited houses. Shaun kicks a football around with them, has his head shaved, to his mother's dismay, and buys the appropriate boots.

Things change for the worse when Combo (Graham), fresh out of jail with his bulky mate Banjo (Newton), appears on the scene. Gang leader Woody (Gilgun) elects to leave with some of his mates, but Shaun stays with Combo, joining him on visits to National Front meetings. It seems odd that Combo bonds with Milky (Shim), the only black member of Woody's gang, but it's an uneasy alliance. Violence lurks in Combo's troubled mind and, in the end, Shaun learns a salutary lesson.

This is a strangely nostalgic and pretty accurate look at time and place, although the acting is only just OK, apart from Graham's excellent psycho. This, though, is a film that depends on its atmosphere and re-creation of period rather than its slight plot.

David Quinlan

UK 2006. UK Distributor: Optimum. Colour by De Luxe.
100 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 21 Apr 2007