Saturday, 14 April 2012

This Is England '88

Smell the Movies
Smell the TV

Transmitted:December 2011
Country of origin:UK
Genre:Drama / neglect / abuse / friendship
Starring:Vicky McClure, Joe Gilgun, Andrew Shim, Thomas Turgoose, Rosamund Hanson, Chanel Cresswell, Johnny Harris
No. of seasons:1

Shane Meadows has been getting a bit of stick in the posh papers recently. Suggestions that he is something of a one trick pony, that all he can do is reflect on the past through misery laced eyes and that, really, his is a cynical, exploitative style that patronises the working classes.
Well, that may well be the case, but damned good at it he is, all the same.

The plot:
Two years on from the devastating effects of her father’s return, Lol is a troubled woman. Now a single mom – she wants little to do with father Milky – she is still haunted by visions of her attacker, in a very literal sense, seeing him everywhere she goes, even hearing him speak to her; threatening; abusing; insulting.
Woody, Lol’s ex, has a new partner, a prim and proper sort who doesn’t really seem a good fit, whilst Shaun is trying his hand at acting, as well as cheating on Smell, his long time girlfriend.

Coming up with a sequel to the simply extraordinary This Is England ’86 was always going to be a tall order. Imagine The Beatles trying to follow Sgt. Pepper; Slayer, Reign in Blood; Spandau Ballet, True.
A big ask.
With all the old characters returning, there is a reassuringly familiar feel to it all, like returning to your hometown for a family reunion and, similarly, you know it’s only a matter of time before fists are flying and tears are flowing.
The main focus of the emotional turmoil, this time, is of course Lol, and the ramifications of things past, but Woody also gets a fair shout, though spends far too much time crying for the liking of those down here at Smell the Cult HQ. I wanted to grab him by the scruff of the neck and give him a good shake.
‘Stop fucking crying.’
With a more trivial feel throughout than its predecessor, particularly the ‘Shaun shagging another girl’ storyline which, frankly, became tiresome very quickly, this did not quite live up to expectations but, truthfully, there was little chance it could ever hit the heights of what had gone before.
For each artist, there is truly only one masterpiece and, trouble is, Meadows has already produced it.
Quality stuff, all the same.

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