Tuesday, January 11, 2011

This Is England Is Powerful, Timely

With the recent snowstorm covering much of South Carolina, I have been able to catch up a little on my DVR stuff that has been building up for awhile.

From that queue comes This Is England - Shane Meadow's semi-biographical film about growing up in early 80's Britain. Set in 1983, the height of Thatcher's England, with massive unemployment and an unpopular war combine to create an atmosphere of despair. In that atmosphere frustrated members of the populace begin to attack the immigrant population as the cause of unemployment. I couldn't help but be struck by the similarities between the period/place and the current climate in America. Eerily familiar - so much so it is disturbing.

The film is defined by the kitchen sink realism and the staggeringly authentic performances from the ensemble cast. Lightning rod skinhead Combo (played by the criminally underrated Stephen Graham) tears through the scenes like a bull in a china shop, destroying all around him. But it is the performance of the young Thomas Turgoose as main character Sean that carries the film. Having never acted before, Turgoose is startling as a 12 year old boy who has lost his father.

This is not good film making, but great film making, and is essential viewing for any film lover. It is also a timely reminding of what economic collapse can lead to.

Terrifying and brilliant.