Shane Meadows “This Is England” is an affecting portrait of skinhead life in the early eighties. Tied closely into the twin historical behemoths of the Falklands and mass unemployment, it manages to show both sides of the skinhead culture. Even if it becomes a bit too Manichean: the good nice skinheads being sidelined by the aggressive NF types, it is generously complex about all of its characters. Everyone is a bit left out, these are in some ways the leftovers of British society in the early eighties, the youth who can’t get jobs, with beer, drugs and music filling that void. And racism. The racism is why the film, with a twelve year old lead, was given an 18 certificate by the BBFC. One of the few good things Westminster council have done – er -ever is challenge the BBFC, and here you can see it at 15. Which is why possibly people more likely to be sucked in can see a cold, but brutally convincing portrayal of the frightening (but shit) allure of fascism.

The only real problem I have with the film (rubbish “meaningful” Smiths cover sequence at the end notwithstanding) is its title. “This Is England”: well no it isn’t. “This Was England”, and for all its achingly accurate period details, it is still a period film. A contemporary version made in 1983 would have been very different, possible less forgiving to the NF characters. Parts of this feel like Scum four years on, the bovver boy out of prison certainly has that hardness, but would a film at the heart of this particular rise of racism really put in the cosy scene which pops up just before the finale? So I wouldn’t call it “This Is England”, and instead highlight the absurdity of that scene, which thankfully illustrates really how influential the far right actually is in British party politics. This is what the poster should look like.