Thomas Turgoose as Shaun in This is England
September 10, 2007
This is England (18)
Starring - Thomas Turgoose, Stephen Graham & Joe Gilgun
IT’S 1983 and the summer holidays have begun. Young lad Shaun, whose dad has died in the Falklands War, is being bullied at school.
Thoroughly depressed and unhappy, he is taken under the wing of local lad Woody. Woody and his mates treat Shaun to a skinhead and buy him trendy clothes. All is going well.
That is until Shaun meets Woody’s pal Combo. Combo has just been released from jail. Unemployed and harbouring a secret love he joins the National Front. Unfortunately so does Shaun.
But things kick off when the group – living in a grim seaside town in the north of England – start targeting racial minorities. This comes to a head following one particularly vicious beating.
This is England tracks one boy’s rapid progression from innocence to experience. It has been described as the best British film since Trainspotting. This is apt. It is gritty, tense and at times painful to watch.
But it is also an important film. It charts a significant part of life in England in the 1980s. The images of the era – Thatcher, the Falklands War, Diana’s wedding – all remind viewers of the time this story is taking place. Unemployment is high and strikes are rife – it is for these reasons among others Combo turns to violence.
Throughout the film, which has a fantastic soundtrack and is beautifully shot to reflect the poverty of the epoch, there is a sense of tension. People are not secure in themselves or their future.
The ending, which I will not spoil, is also touching. This is England has succeeded where other lesser films have failed. A special mention must go to Thomas Turgoose who plays Shaun. He is truly brilliant. As far away from stage school as you can get, a lesser actor would not have been able to cope with the requirements thrust upon him.