When I first saw This Is England it hit me like a tump to the jaw…completely arresting subject matter and it makes a strong case for simplicity trumping complexity when dealing with coming of age stories. It also has a wicked soundtrack almost entirely made up of reggae and dub tracks.
“It’s the summer of 1983, and Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) is a 12-year-old boy edging into adolescence without a father, his dad having lost his life the year before in the Falkland Islands War. A gang of skinheads walk the streets in Shaun’s neighborhood, and one day they start picking on him. Shaun, however, shows he can give as good as he gets, and gang leader Woody (Joe Gilgun) takes a liking to the boy. Woody takes Shaun under his wing, and he starts hanging out with the skins, who teach him about Jamaican music and West Indian culture. However, the gang begins to change when Combo (Stephen Graham) is released from prison and returns to the neighborhood toward violence and petty crime against blacks, Indians, and Pakistanis, while Woody and his friends follow a more benign path.” – Mark Deming