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This Is England (2006)

This is England Director: Shane Meadows
Starring: Thomas Turgoose, Stephen Graham, Jo Hartley, Andrew Shim, Vicky McClure, Joseph Gilgun, Perry Benson, George Newton, Frank Harper, Jack O'Connell, Kieran Hardcastle

Tagline: This could have been great...

With its large ensemble cast, brilliant soundtrack and cheeky little bastard Thomas Turgoose (he wanted 5 quid just to audition!) playing the main character of Shaun, this movie should have been great, but I can't help feeling that it is only half the movie it could have been.

The first half is great with Shaun falling in with the local skinhead gang up for a laugh with Woody (Joseph Gilgun) taking him under his wing and even getting lucky with Smell (Rosamund Hanson) who agrees to be his girlfriend.

Once Combo (Stephen Graham) turns up, it just turns into a pale imitation of Romper Stomper with Combo not being a patch on Russel Crowe's Hando (I'm tasting bile even admitting that!)

As Victorian Minister for Innovation Gavin Jennings said that saying "This is England" is a big claim that not even Mike Leigh or Ken Loach would admit to and it hasn't really worked out this time as it is still only a pop culture version events.

Even though it is the director's own story, sometimes you have to step back and let someone else do it for you as you can be too close to events and not tell it correctly.

I did like the scenes in the first half, in particular the hunting scene where the gang dresses up like one of my favourite local bands the Twits just for a laugh. There is some cynical laughter to be had with the shop-keeper that the gang terrorises in the second half speaking in perfect clipped tones, while the gang can barely spell a word correctly between them.

The roots of skinhead culture were mentioned in this movie, but the 1980s skinhead culture is still the most well known in popular culture and has the unfortunate connotations of racism due to the political movement as shown in this movie.

Rating: 6/10

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