8.34pm – Time to watch This Is England for my fellow film studies student Ree. We were in the same class and didn’t really talk then as soon as we finished college [sixth form] we started randomly ‘talking’ to each other on Facebook. Mainly dissing the bad parts of film studies class. Mainly one of our FOUR teachers. I shall not name names. It began with a C and ended in atherine. Whatever, she’s not gonna read this >.< But yes, Ree has been begging me to review this movie and tonight I have another slot open. I'm getting really bad at posting these DVDs back! Ooops! By the way, sorry if there are any typos, I'm typing with gloves on because my hands are so damn cold!
11.35pm – It’s a great movie and it made me miss England a lot. Just seeing the houses and scenery and hearing the accents made me really miss my home country. Jeez, I’m getting all teary eyed just thinking about the place and the people in it. Can’t cry all over my notes or we won’t have a review for Ree!
Opening montage is of ‘80s clips to an ‘80s track and *drum roll* ITS EDITED IN TIME WITH THE MUSIC! Hurrah! I’m sick of seeing montages that aren’t edited to the music. I know some editors don’t think they need to but its kind of my pet-peeve when it comes to film editing; I like the cuts and ‘effects’ to be in time with the music. Otherwise, in my opinion, it just looks poorly made. Anyways, we have clips of Thatcher, the classic computer/arcade games, Knight Rider and a lot of clips involving violence, racism & being patriotic which is what the whole movie is about. One of the final clips in the montage is of a man on a stretcher who’s left leg has been blown off which acts as a kind of warning to the audience that they aren’t going to hold anything back.
“Nice flares.” “Piss off.” These two simple sentences tell a lot about our main boy, Shaun; he’s bullied a lot, he’s miserable and he’s not afraid to swear. The main storyline is about Shaun wanting to be accepted somewhere, anywhere. He finds the acceptance in a group of friendly, unracist skin-heads [they do exist!] but then the racist skin-head comes back into town after doing time but tells a racist, hypocritical story and it all kind of goes down hill from there. I felt so sorry for poor Shaun, he needs someone to be a father figure or a male role model of some description and he just chose the wrong crowd.
I liked the playground banter which wasn’t witty even though the kids were trying to be and that’s exactly what its like; people trying to be cool with ‘witty’ comments and comebacks but they just look like d**ks.
The costumes in this movie are almost a character on their own! They’re soooo 80s and it completely sets the era.
I got the feeling, when Shaun first met the non-racist skinheads that they were bad people trying to get fresh meat to do their bidding but I was very wrong. They’re incredibly nice [well, most of them are, you get the occasional two that piss him about] and seem to genuinely care for the little lad. Do not judge a book by its cover, that’s all I can say.
Tehehe, I loved hearing “but it was non-uniform day today!” So English! I remember everyone always going mental on non-uniform day at school because we were in our own clothes and it just set us off somehow. I bet the teachers dreaded it!
I would classify this movie as a British independent film so its nice to see the mum is normal for once and not a raging alcoholic like in most British independent films!
Ah, the English beaches. I used to live right next to the sea and now I oddly miss our beach. I miss getting my lunch at Tesco, eating it on the beach till my dad picked me up. I don’t think I took advantage of our beach. Oh well, that’s what I get for being an indoor girl!
Its not good and I shouldn’t laugh or even smile but the gang’s idea of ‘hunting’ [which they invite Shaun to, to try and cheer him up from being bullied] is to go to an abandoned house and completely trash it. Its just the way they do it and how happy it makes Shaun that I smile. Its sad but happy as well.
Oooooh the accents! See! Its all these little things that are making me miss England! Why the hell do I miss the annoying accents?!
There’s a very sweet little montage where we see the gang and Shaun having a good day, just hanging out and being happy. Its lovely to see Shaun so happy as he deserves it. Unfortunately, I still thought, at this stage, that they were going to use him for something else but they never do. Anyways, this ‘happy’ montage feels like the calm before the storm. Like this is happy, now something bad is going to happen. Sure enough, in crashes Combo who is greatly very warmly [a big kiss, in fact] by Woody who’s the main nice guy who is almost like a brother to Shaun. Then Combo tells a racist story and we see the gang’s reaction and most of them have this look of saddness, and… I don’t know, the only way I can really describe it is that they’re really gutted that he’s changed into a racist but they have dread as well because they know its never going to stop and will probably get worse or lead to worse things. Sorry but the looks on their faces is very hard to describe but you know exactly what they’re feeling. Its sadly beautiful.
The kid is suppose to be 12 and he gets some major tongue action with Smell who’s 17. It feels very weird. I can’t quite believe its legal…
“I hate bullies.” Combo says this and it’s the most hypocritical line I’ve ever heard in a movie.
Combo gives this fantastic, powerful speech that would probably even convince you but its so filled with anger and we see shots of everyone else so we aren’t dragged in. Superb acting by Stephen Graham.
We very quickly see Combo become Shaun’s father-figure. It’s a shame because Shaun deserves so much better. He deserves Woody!
You see two accounts of the racist gang [lead by Combo] causing a lot of harmful trouble. Combo threatens three boys [no older than 13] with a knife and racist words, telling them that this is their football [soccer] ball now and that they should never show their faces again or Combo will cut them. Its horrible because its very clear that these boys have done absolutely nothing to offend them which is, unfortunately, often the case with most racist crimes of this nature. What’s worse is that you see Shaun smiling as Combo threatens and your heart just drops as you can see him totally looking up to this racist being.
There’s an incredibly important scene where Combo is rejected. Normally, I would think that this wasn’t a good enough reason to go mental but after spending 3 ½ years in prison for someone else and, by the looks of things, never really having any stable relationships [not even with parents], I think I’d be pretty mentally unstable too. Not as far as him but you know what I mean. Its not a good enough excuse for what he does but you can see where its all coming from within him. Jeeze, its really hard to explain this without sounding racist! I don’t mean to offend, please understand this. I’m just having a hard time with wording!
There are two scenes of laughter before the grand, terrible finale. We see Smell meet Shaun’s mum which, once you see Smell, is just hilarious. And the other is of the racist group playing Buck-a-roo and the man who looks like a stereotypical skin-head [bald head, mustache thing, white vest, bling and loads of tattoos] is like “the banjo!! Ooooooo!!!” it’s a funny little contradiction, like a very butch man loving pink lace. Ooo almost forgot another funny scene which sparked another memory for me! There’s this kind of big guy [he’s not that big but he’s bigger than the rest] who is always the butt of the jokes and he smokes some weed and starts freaking out, sweating loads and just having a bad reaction to it. Its funny because that’s what happened to my mate Chris. I remember it was in history class, right after lunch and Chris was like “I’m going to be sick” and he was at the front of the class and next to Gamze [we were all thinking “puke on Gamze” because puking on someone is just funny] but he threw up to the right of himself so it was all over the carpet. He was like “it was bad ham, bad ham” but we were all like “bullcrap, you totally smoked a joint and now you’re officially a bigger loser”. Sorry, I need to stop with these memories that aren’t the film!!! Sorry!
Now comes THAT scene. Combo has Milky round his house and Milky is the only black skin-head. He’s non-racist [obviously], he just loves England. Anyways, they’re talking and Combo is asking normal questions about Milky’s family. Even before it starts to show on Combo’s face that he’s getting more and more angry, you can sense it. You can really sense that something is not right and that Combo’s anger is just building up. Then we see his eyes watering, his voice cracking and he’s looking so angry that he actually looks upset. The sad thing is that Milky thinks he’s just being polite and is oblivious to Combo’s growing rage. Suddenly he, Combo, cracks. Now, before I continue, I feel its important to point out that I really struggled to write these notes. I paused for a long time before I could write anything. My hands were shaking, I felt sick and I was very close to crying. That is the impact of this scene. I’ve never been like this for a film except for one scene my teacher showed me in film studies class where it was hinted that a baby was being beaten to death with a club in it’s pushchair. I actually won’t tell you about the scene. I feel that it would ruin the effect for you. it’s a horrible effect but a necessary one.
The end shot is nice and relaxing compared to the previous scene. Shaun throws his British flag into the sea, which felt like he was getting rid of Combo. It gives the viewer an odd sense of relief as you don’t want any more harm [mental and physical] to come to this poor child.
Ree, if you’ve read the whole thing and you’re now reading this, you should watch this movie. Just take my word of it. And that goes for anyone else who may be reading. it’s a fantastic piece of film.