This Is England (2006)
This is England: Mods, New Romantics, and Skinheads are the major youth sub-cultures of this very English summer of 1983 and young 12-year-old Shaun is left wandering aimlessly alone and lost during the start of his school holidays, until his chance meeting with Woody and his fun and friendly Skinhead pack. Finding a new lease of life; girls, parties, Ben Sherman shirts, Doc Martin boots and shaven hairstyles young Shaun is welcomed, life during this summer holiday has got a whole lot better. That is until Combo arrives on the scene bitter, dangerous, racist, militant and psychotic life for young Shaun has just approached his first major crossroads. This is England is a look back at the early eighties of British working-class life through the eyes of young Shaun and his new gang, and dealing with the bitterness of outside influences such as racism and xenophobia, of mass unemployment and the fall out of the Falkland's War; Thatcher's Britain: Did we ever have it so good? When you see Shaun, ask Him.
Roland Rat, Margaret Thatcher; Rubik's Cubes, the Royal Wedding; aerobics, skinheads... It's 1983, and the schools are breaking up for summer. Shaun is 12 and a bit of a loner, growing up with his mum in a grim coastal town, his dad killed fighting in the Falklands War. On his way home from school where he's been tormented all day for wearing flares, he runs into a group of skinheads, who against expectations turn out to be friendly and take him under their wing. Soon Shaun discovers parties, girls and snappy dressing, and finds some role models in Woody, Milky and the rest of the gang. But when an older, overtly racist skinhead returns home from prison, the easy camaraderie of the group is broken, and Shaun is drawn into much more uncomfortable territory. Based largely on his own experience as a youngster, this is Shane Meadows' most mature and fully realised film. Handling the complexities of masculinity, violence and race with sensitivity and a lightness of touch, it's hard to imagine a film that would better capture the mood of the time, or that could have any greater an understanding of the allure of being part of a gang.
12 year old Shaun lives with his widowed mother in a small town in Britain. His father, an army officer, was one of the Falkland casualties. A loner, he is befriended by some older skinhead youth, who shave off his hair, date an older young woman, and subsequently introduce him to ex-convict Combo. Shaun unwittingly volunteers to be part of Combo's gang, and is taken to a meeting hosted by Britain's right-winged National Front, which openly advocates ethnic cleansing; re-defines Racism as Reality; and Nazism as Nationalism. Combo then takes his followers on a spree of sword and knife-wielding terror, looting a corner store run by Sandhu, all eventually get stoned and violence ensues.
A young boy becomes friends with a gang of skinheads. Friends soon become like family, and relationships will be pushed to the very limit.
- In 1983, 12-year-old schoolboy Shaun gets into a fight at school after a classmate, Harvey, makes an offensive joke about his father, who died in the Falklands War. On his way home, Shaun comes across a group of young skinheads led by Woody, who feels sympathy for Shaun and invites him to join the group, among them Milky who is the only black skinhead in the group, Lol is Woody's girlfriend, Gadget, Smell, Pukey, Kes, Kelly (Lol's younger sister), Trev, and Meggy. They accept Shaun as a member, and he finds a big brother in Woody, while developing a romance with Smell, an older girl who dresses in a new wave style.
Combo, an older skinhead, returns to the group after a prison sentence, accompanied by a knife-wielding mustachioed man called Banjo. A charismatic but unstable individual with sociopathic tendencies, Combo expresses English nationalist and racist views, and attempts to enforce his leadership over the other skinheads. This leads the group to split. Combo is impressed by and identifies with Shaun, who in turn sees Combo as a mentor figure.
Shaun stays in Combo's group instead of the apolitical skinheads led by Woody. Shaun goes with Combo's group to a white nationalist meeting. After Pukey expresses doubt over the group's racist and nationalistic politics, Combo throws him out of the group and sends him back to Woody. The gang then engages in racist antagonism of, among others, shopkeeper Mr. Sandhu, an Indian man who had previously banned Shaun from his shop.
Combo becomes depressed after Lol, whom Combo has loved since having sex with her one night, years before, rejects him. To console himself, Combo buys cannabis from Milky. At a party with Shaun and the other members of Combo's group, Combo and Milky bond while intoxicated. Combo invites Milky to tell him about himself. Milky describes his many relatives and comfortable family life to Combo who listens with increasing jealousy. When Milky invites him to a family dinner, Combo becomes enraged and beats Milky into a coma whilst Banjo holds Shaun down, who watches in horror. Ashamed and devastated by what he has done to Milky, Combo then turns hysterical, violently dragging the others out of the room and glassing Banjo in the face, covering Meggy in blood. Shaun returns, and he and Combo are shown crying and panicking whilst dragging Milky to a nearby hospital.
The film cuts forward to Shaun in his room brooding about the whole event, with his mother Cynthia (Jo Hartley) assuring Shaun that Milky will be alright. Shaun is then shown walking near the beach and throwing his Saint George Flag into the sea.