This Is England

With bullies making his school life a misery after his dad is killed in the Falklands, 12 year old Shaun falls in with a gang of local skinheads, who accept him as one of their own and treat him with respect. However, when older skinhead Combo returns from a stint in priosn, the group splinters as their beliefs are brought into question. What is being a skinhead? Is it a harmless interest in music and fashion - or a more militant belief in keping England "British"?

I'm rocking up two years late to this party, but yet again I wish I'd got in on this earlier. Following on from his magnificent Dead Mans Shoes, Shane Meadows delivers a masterful film - and an outstanding critique of British society and culture. Side-stepping the two usual British cliches of cockney gangsterism and kitchen sink drama, Meadows portrays a vivid sketch of 80's Britain, telling his stories form the common perspective rather the London-centric world portrayed on the news.

Thomas Turgoose is a revelation, effortlessly portraying the coming-of-age of cheeky protaganist Shaun - as he smokes his first joint, drinks his first beer and gets his first snog. Stephen Graham is an equally compelling Combo, undermining the leadership of the group, poisoning them with his mis-informed rhetoric.

Meadows keeps back from the action, but I'm pretty sure his seemingly improvised dialogue and effortless directorial style are actually fast becoming well-honed crafts. I'm surprised he hasn't yet been picked up by Hollywood, or maybe he's just not interested. Turgoose returns for his next movie Somers Town, which has been scooping awards around the world. Surprisingly, that has been revealed to have been funded by advertising agency Mother on behalf of it's client, Eurostar. Make of that what you will....