A Foken Review: This is England

ThisIsEnglandThumbby Brad Nelson
This is England is small little film. But rather than damning it with faint praise, this describes a movie that is modest in scope (there are very few, if any, car crashes and camera shakes), and yet is genuine in content.

Set in 1983 England, This is England is a story about a young twelve-year-old boy, lonely because of the death of his father in the foken (sorry…”Falklands”) war, who is attracted to a group of older kids.

Some of these kids are skinheads, some of them are freshly out of prison, and some of them haven’t quite officially signed on to this nascent nationalist skinhead ideology. And you’ll be forgiven if you have Camper van Beethoven’s song “Take the Skinheads Bowling” rolling around your head while watching this. I did. (Or is that just me?)

The young kid, Shaun, played marvelously by Thomas Turgoose (there’s a name for you), finds himself in a blossoming buddy-buddy relationship as he’s taken under the wing of the older leader of the skinhead group, Combo, played splendidly by Stephen Graham.

This really is a character study between these two guys as they both search for meaning and purpose in their lives. But it’s, of course, a tragic purpose as the skinheads go from rather harmless meetings where they sit around drinking soda and watching TV to doing things much worse.

An aside: This movie is often bereft of a plot. This is truly a character study of these two fellows. But seeing Thomas Turgoose do a spendid job of playing a child of roughly 12 years of age, I couldn’t help but wonder WHAT THE HELL WAS GEORGE LUCAS THINKING? There are so many very good child actors in the world and he picks this totally too-cute toe-headed Jake Lloyd who seems a better fit for Mister Rogers than a future Dark Lord of the Sith.

This is England was good therapy for me because it helped to restore my faith in movies and let me know that I wasn’t crazy for thinking WHAT THE HELL WAS GEORGE LUCAS THINKING? Turgoose is an actor who you believe could pull the wings off of a butterfly. But Jake Lord? Oh, good lord, no. Turgoose deftly walks that tightrope between playing a kid who seems lovable and yet is somewhat twisted. Yes, a child actor can actually play a complex role. You’ll watch this movie and, if you could subtract the British accent, you’ll wonder why he (or someone like him) wasn’t chosen to play Anakin Skywalker. Oh, this is an old wound and it may never fully heal.

But a movie such as this, somewhat lacking plot and that doesn’t tie up its various storylines like you would expect, still holds its own on the strength of the two main characters and a fine supporting cast. After watching it, you may not want to take the skinheads bowling, but you will definitely feel that you’ve watched something of quality. I give it 3.0 foken’s out of 5. If I had a dime for every time they said that word (and that’s how it sounds with their thick accents) I could probably remake Star Wars I.


Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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2 Responses to A Foken Review: This is England

  1. jc says:

    Good to know about this — thx for posting.

    You say, “But a movie such as this, somewhat lacking plot and that doesn’t tie up its various storylines like you would expect …” is rather like life, is it not. I like that quality. The older I get and the messier life in these United States gets day by day, it is oddly comforting to be reminded that things being out of kilter is really not so uncommon in human endeavors.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Yes, this movie is rather like life. I’m fairly unconventional in some of the movies that I like so I include these little disclaimers so as not to falsely advertise. Some of my favorite movies (such as “Local Hero”) I’ve recommended to people only to later have them look at me as if I were completely daft. So I try to let people know what in general to expect.

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