My mother’s last birthday present to me was a box set. What can I say, the woman knows me well. Probably because I had been going on and on about Shane Meadows and This is England. So now I own a box set of his films called This is Shane Meadows and it includes all of his feature films as well as some wonderful bonus material.
Although Mr. Meadows’ films are all different stories, with nothing to connect them directly, there is an underlying theme to all of them, one that he explores over and over again, and has done incredibly well in This is England. It is the them of the self-destructive male.
All of his films feature a male protagonist who is trying very hard to control himself. They try to teach and be in charge of their own behaviour and emotions. And yet in each one, they lose that control with terrible results. The difference from other violent male leads is that Meadows accepts that these characters are flawed, they are not to be role models, even though in the context of the film they try to be. In the end, they cannot take their own advice and destroy themselves and the things they love around them.
Meadows’ two best points are his excellent directing of actors (and a bloody good casting director) and the emotional depth and development of his characters. He creates a British cinema that is very different to anything else coming out of the UK. It reminds me of 1970s films from the US when suddenly the studios let a pack of kids run wild, which resulted in Taxi Driver and Easy Rider, but his films are also much more European. In the simplicity of his film making there is intellect and care for his characters that ultimately affects and reaches the audience.
Overall this is an excellent box set, although the commentaries weren’t great. It is a well-rounded way to get introduced to one of the best film directors working in the UK at the moment. The box set has been out for a while, so prices have dropped at most DVD websites and shops. Enjoy!