Based on incidents from his own childhood, writer-director Shane Meadows's THIS IS ENGLAND is a stunning, brutal look at 1983 Britain, during the conservative Margaret Thatcher regime and the controversial Falklands War. Twelve-year-old Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) is a tough little kid who is street-smart beyond his years despite being short for his age. He falls in with a group of older boys, led by Woody (Joe Gilgun), who hang out at a local coffee shop, like to commit minor acts of anarchy, and adopt Shaun as one of their own--especially Smell (Rosamund Hanson), an overly made-up teenager who dresses like Boy George and develops a cute romantic interest in the complicated boy. But when skinhead Combo (SNATCH's Stephen Graham) gets out of jail, he returns to the gang, eager to take over the reins and lead them on a nationalistic battle to get rid of the immigrants who are stealing their jobs and to defend England to the death. Shaun, whose father died in the Falklands, must choose between staying with Woody and his friends or joining Combo on his violent quest to protect the homeland. Turgoose, in his acting debut, is an absolute revelation in the extremely demanding, challenging role of Shaun. Graham is excellent as Combo, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, never knowing what he is going to do next, waiting for him to simply explode. Meadows (TWENTYFOURSEVEN, DEAD MAN'S SHOES) paces the film brilliantly, and uses a terrific soundtrack that ranges from Percy Sledge and Toots & the Maytals to UK Subs and Culture Club, from Dexy's Midnight Runners and Soft Cell to the Smiths and the Specials, capturing the uneasy times in Thatcherite England. Don't miss the beginning, which features a thrilling montage that sets the mood perfectly.
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