This Is England ★★★★★

It’s always those random movies that are on YouTube for free that you decide to watch on a whim, that ultimately blow you away. I’d known of its influence on Mid90s, but it lifted a lot more than I thought. While that film brilliantly portrays adolescence, This is England matches that with even more rawness, raising its political undertones to front and center once Stephen Graham’s character shows up. Graham is awesome (went toe to toe with Al Pacino in The Irishman), but this is another level of awesomeness. He brings a likability and vulnerability to a pretty despicable character, it could’ve easily went the cartoon route with how over the top he gets. The film aims for brutal realism but also manages to crowd please whenever it wants, led by Thomas Turgoose. Once again, in the hands of the wrong actor, this could’ve been an annoying little brat, but he’s simply too innocent and relatable. You can be damned sure I’ll be watching Shane Meadows’ collection of mini series that follow this. Brilliant stuff.

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