I’ve never warmed to Shane Meadows, he always seems over-earnest to me. However, there’s no denying the heart and power of this film. It does the difficult trick of rewriting the ‘skin’ stereotype and also explaining the racism possible within the sub-cultural group.
I think Shaun (aged 12) is a little on the young side (particularly in his relationship with Smell) however Turgoose’s performance is terrific. The film is marked by marvellous acting: Stephen Graham’s troubled, loathsome, pathetic and frightening Combo; Joe Gilgun’s wonderful Woody and Vicky McLure’s lovely Lol.
The economic recession that characterised Thatcher’s early years, and the gung-ho patriotism of the Falklands war, forms the backdrop to the film. We’re in recession again and the ‘war on terror’ has increased xenophobia so Meadow’s portrait of the pathetic and dangerous hatred engendered by racism is timely.