This Is England

In Meantime (1983), Mike Leigh explored what might produce a skinhead in London's East End. Harking back to the same year on the north coast of England, where he grew up, writer-director Shane Meadows (Once Upon a Time in the Midlands) builds on his own memories of what turned him into a skinhead, making his hero (Thomas Turgoose) a lonely outcast who's recently lost his father in the Falklands war. The way this 12-year-old on summer holiday falls under the protective influence of first one relatively gentle gang leader (Joe Gilgun), then an ex-con more prone to rapid mood swings and racial hatred (Stephen Graham), is masterfully charted and acted, as are the boy's early forays into sex. The film falters only when it drifts too predictably into a coming-of-age moral fable. 102 min.

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