In his recent review of This Is England, an apparently outstanding movie well received by critics and in line for a number of awards, one would think, Stratton let slip one of the standard lines used by the left to diminish the positive outcomes of the early 1980s conservative governments.
It’s July, 1983, a year after the end of the Falklands War. Shaun, (THOMAS TURGOOSE), lives with his Mum, Cynth, (JO HARTLEY), in a scruffy seaside town in North Yorkshire. His Dad was killed in the war.Now, there was nothing wrong with the review until the last, unnecessary, paragraph.
Shaun gets teased a lot, but he can stand up for himself. Woody, (JOE GILGUN), leader of a gang of skinheads, takes a liking to Shaun and invites him to join them. At last he has a family.
But things change when Combo, (STEPHEN GRAHAM) comes out of prison; he’s a passionate supporter of the racist National Front, and he causes a split in the gang.
Shaun, impressed with what Combo has to say about his father’s memory, stays with his faction, but Combo is getting more and more irrational.
Writer-director Shane Meadows has made a number of interesting films, some better than others, but THIS IS ENGLAND is his most assured achievement to date.
It’s autobiographical to a degree – Meadows himself joined a skinhead gang in the early 80s – and it goes a long way towards explaining the roots of racially motivated violence bordering on fascism.
The Australian film ROMPER STOMPER explored similar territory, but lacked the insights Meadows brings to the material.
Young Thomas Turgoose is quite remarkable as the boy who is older and tougher than he looks, and the supporting cast is excellent, too, with a special nod to ROSAMUND HANSON who plays Smell, a strange girl with a Boy George fixation.
The underlying theme – the effect of Margaret Thatcher’s policies on the less prosperous parts of Britain – adds to the surprises and the accomplishments of this very fine, very disturbing film.
Do people remember the societal destruction being wrought in the United Kingdom by a whole host of leftist institutions? The miners' strikes? The media wars? The place was heading into the abyss at a terrific rate with those at the bottom of society affected the most.
Thatcher's policies, far from being a negative for those less prosperous parts of Britain, were, in fact, their salvation.
But that's a pill too bitter for faux intellectuals like Stratton to swallow in spite of its reality. He should stick to reviewing what he's watching and not reading political messages into things when they don't exist.