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Movie Review: This is England

Alternate Title: Twelve the Hard Way

Story: It is a small town somewhere next to nowhere in England. It is 1983 and school is out for the summer. Twelve year old Shaun has no friends, his father died in the ongoing Falklands War and he is being bullied by the neighborhood kids. As luck would have it he is befriended (think mascot) by a motley pack of young Skinheads. Shaun feels like he belongs for the first time in his life.

Director and writer Shane Meadows has hit a home run with this slice of life film. It is a coming of age depiction unlike any you have seen before. These goofy Skinheads act more like a bunch of pranksters going to a costume party than any foreboding gang. Suddenly, one of their own returns from prison and the agenda and group takes a major change in direction.

Meadows weaves the frustration of the working class who are disenfranchised, unemployed and angry with the political backdrop of the Thatcher years and the price the country has to pay for her war. Racist backlash rears its ugly head. What kind of trade offs do we make to join a tribe, a group, an ideology?

This film packs quite a wallop and is one you should put at the top of your list for summer cinema.

Acting: Young Thomas Turgoose is a gem. He eats up the screen and you just want to take him in your arms and tell him everything will be all right. The ensemble cast of young actors and non-professionals is impressive including, Joseph Gilgin as Woody, Stephen Graham as Combo, Vicky McClure as Lol and Andrew Shim as Milky.

Predilection: None

Critters: One scary looking dog.

Blatant Product Placement: Doc Martens

Soundtrack: Appropriately tense and at times joyous.

Opening Titles: A three minute montage of the Thatcher years.

Theater Audience: Crowded for a midweek afternoon showing.

Weather: The weather was surprisingly nice in July 1983.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter:0

Squirm Scale: Racism is very squirmy.

Drift Factor: I did not drift for a nano second.

Predictability Level: Moderate

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: If you can fin this gem on the big screen, go for it.

Length: Under two hours.