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SIFF 2007, day 5

This Is England- UK, Drama

At SIFF 2004, we went to a screening of Dead Man's Shoes directed by Shane Meadows which was a well made and very memorable thriller starring Paddy Considine. As I had such fond recollections of that film, I was quick to agree to see another film by Shane Meadows.

Shortly after getting into a fight at school, Shaun meets a group of friendly skin heads who adopt him, shave his head, and teach him how to dress. While Shaun's mother is a little distressed that her child is spending his time out of school with a bunch of adult punks, she does nothing to interfere since they have helped him stay out of fights and they do take care of him. But the group becomes less friendly when Combo returns after doing his time. Soon Shaun is indoctrinated into racism and violence.

This Is England didn't cover as much new territory as I had hoped. I know a bit about skin head culture and England's skin heads are nearly identical to those in the US. They wear the working class uniform of jeans, braces, doc martens and the all important hair-cut. I guess learning that Ben Sherman's shirts were part of the uniform was a new piece of information and I hadn't realized how much this movement was fueled by unemployment during the years that Thatcher and the war in the Falklands. But that wasn't really the point of the film, it was more about how the vulnerable and very young Shaun was brainwashed into holding values opposed to his prior beliefs.

The story, while feeling genuine, didn't really pull me in, but I was fascinated with the depiction of England. The England that this film was set in was decidedly less glamourous than how I think of England. The people looked poor and they lived in projects. So the setting seemed very genuine to what I know of working class England under Margaret Thatcher. It is just a shame that I wasn't as sucked into the plot as I was some of the individual characters and their setting.

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