Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

"England Is Mine"

Morrissey bio-pic “England Is Mine” seems not to have stormed the box-office, perhaps unsurprisingly, since non-Smiths lovers will all have steered clear, casual fans will be disappointed by the absence of Smiths music, and others may have been put off by some of the singer’s more intemperate political comments of the past few years. Also, reviews have tended to be lukewarm. I have to say, however, that I loved it.
The story follows Stretford’s Steven Morrissey from his days as a writer of self-important letters to the NME, via a false start to his rock star career alongside Billy Duffy (later of The Cult), and a number of reverses which see him slump into stasis, to the very start of a creative partnership with chirpy young Johnny Marr (Laurie Kynaston). Mark Gill, who co-wrote the screenplay with William Thacker, shows an assured directorial touch, finding poetry in glum Manchester locations which, frequently and inevitably reference future Smiths lyrics (cemeteries, fairgrounds, iron bridges etc).
Jack Lowden, unrecognisable from his turn as a fighter pilot in “Dunkirk”, is a more robust Morrissey than the fey eccentric of caricature, reflecting the hero’s portrayal of himself, in his excellent autobiography, as having been sporty in early adolescence. He is also surrounded by women, most notably Jessica Brown Findlay as Linder Sterling; and although he shows no interest in them, the only hint of other sexual preferences here is in his choice of cover version for his debut gig with the Nosebleeds.
Jessica Brown Findlay & Jack Lowden

The supporting cast is excellent, especially Simone Kirby as his supportive mother; not to mention Graeme Hawley as the exasperated boss in Steven’s Inland Revenue job who is well aware that the constantly tardy youth is spending much of his time filling notebooks with reflections on how idiotic everyone is other than himself.
Rather than a conventional rock star tale, this is the story of a young man with big but vague ideas slowly growing in confidence. Perhaps it misses a trick at the very end by avoiding a triumphal tableau; this, though, is in tune with the tone of the whole film - inspirational in a determinedly low-key manner.

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