Starring: Jack Lowden, Katherine Pierce, Jessica Brown Findlay, Laurie Kynaston, Adam Lawrence, Jodie Comer.
Director: Mark Gill
Release date: 4th August 2017
The year is 1976 and our story begins in Manchester, England. A young man called Stephen Patrick Morrissey (Jack Lowden) lives at home with his parents and sister. Christmas soon comes around and after many rows, his dad leaves the family home. The family is devastated and it soon becomes apparent that Stephen will have to become the breadwinner in the house. He ends up working for the Inland Revenue, and he hates the job with a passion. His main love is music and he spends a lot of time with his friend, Angie. Stephen is painfully shy and socially awkward and tends to keep himself to himself. He also spends a lot of time ‘observing’ and carries a notebook around with him everywhere. He answers an ad for a singer, which they find on the wall of the local record shop but he chickens out of the meet-up. The guy who placed the ad is called Billy and he’s pretty good with a guitar. When they do finally meet, Stephen is also introduced to Billy’s mate, Johnny. Soon they get the opportunity to play their first gig together and it goes really well. As is usually the way, things don’t go to plan and Stephen spirals into depression.. Will this fragile and sensitive young man eventually get what he dreams of?
‘England Is Mine’ charts the younger years of the painfully shy young man who would go on to become lead singer with The Smiths, Morrissey. He was born in the May of 1959 and grew up in a working class, Irish family. After he met Johnny Marr, The Smiths were born in 1982 and would go on to huge success, but unfortunately due to personal differences, the band split in 1987 and Morrissey went on to have a very rewarding solo career.
I’m not exactly sure how fans of The Smiths will react to this movie. I’m guessing they will be protective of their hero, as would anyone else who loves a band/ singer. There is very little in the way of Smiths songs used in the movie, but I guess that’s because it’s set before they had any success as a band. Instead though, is a brilliant soundtrack of the early 80’s; Roxy Music, Sparks etc., and bands that probably influenced the young Morrissey. I’m also not exactly sure how true to life the movie is. I am definitely a fan of Morrissey’s music but I wouldn’t really know too much about his early life.
I really enjoyed ‘England Is Mine’, and it felt like a little bit of a journey and a possible snapshot into music history. Jack Lowden is really great in the lead role, and even during the one time in the film where he performs live on stage, his voice is not totally unlike Morrissey’s might have been. If you’d shut your eyes when listening, I don’t think you’d be that far off.
A movie that’s a tiny bit off the beaten track, it’s a great one to go and see if you’re looking for something that’s a bit more ‘indie’. If you loved the 80’s then I reckon you’ll enjoy this film. Definitely worth a watch.