By Tim Lucia
Shane Meadows’ semi-autobiographical film This is England is an unflinching look into disenchanted youth, racism, and English subcultures. In 1983, mods, new wavers, punks, and skinheads dominate the social scene in England. Loner Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) begins his summer by getting picked on and fighting with local kids. On his way home, he meets friendly skinhead Woody (Joseph Gilgun), who takes Shaun under his wing. Shaun makes new friends, parties, and begins to be happy and enjoy his life. Enter Combo (Stephen Graham) a dangerous, angry, militant skinhead who also takes a shine to Shaun. Set against a backdrop of the Falklands War, Shaun sides with Combo, and the conflict escalates, forever changing the lives of all the characters. Strong performances, story, and cinematography highlight this powerful film which won Best Film at the 2006 British Independent Film Awards. The soundtrack features classic hits from reggae band Toots & The Maytals.