Synopsis by Mark Deming
British filmmaker Shane Meadows looks back at his own youth in this semi-autobiographical comedy drama that examines skinhead culture in the U.K. 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 -- tough guys in their teens and early twenties who shave their heads, wear Ben Sherman polo shirts, and Dr. Martens boots, and listen to ska music -- 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, getting advice on dressing right from Woody's girlfriend, Lol (Vicky McClure), and learning about Jamaican music from West Indian skinhead Milky (Andrew Shim). However, the gang begins to change when Combo (Stephen Graham) is released from prison and returns to the neighborhood; like many skinheads, Combo has been recruited by the National Front, an openly racist right-wing political party, and soon the gang begins to fracture, with Combo taking one faction toward violence and petty crime against blacks, Indians, and Pakistanis, while Woody and his friends follow a more benign path. This Is England received its North American premiere at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival.
adolescence, racism, ska-music, skinhead