• England Is Mine (Umbrella Entertainment) DVD Review

    Released By: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released On: May 2, 2018.
    Director: Mark Gill
    Cast: Jack Lowden, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jodie Comer, Laurie Kynaston, Simone Kirby
    Year: 2017
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    England Is Mine - Movie Review:

    For Steven Patrick Morrissey (Jack Lowden), growing up in 1976 Manchester, England is just no fun at all. Everywhere young Morrissey looks, he sees adults going about their dreary day jobs, slowly accelerating through a mundane existence towards the long cold rest that is death. No job is suitably satisfying for the morose lad; he just wants to write. Song lyrics, poetry, and reviews of Manchesters shite local scene that he dutifully submits to the NME, putting pen to paper seems to be the only thing that drives him, even if it doesn't make him happy. Of course, teaming those words up with music would be super-fab, and so Morrissey also spends his time looking through the local music shop want ads for musicians keen on forming a band; one rooted in the gospels preached by the New York Dolls and David Bowie.

    When his father and mother split up, Steven is forced to join the rank and file in the working world, helping his mother and sister contribute to the household expenses. His office job doesn't offer much to persuade him that he's got a satisfying future behind a desk, but it does give him the opportunity to scribble down lyrics in his notebook; a moody, artistic statement that draws the unwanted attentions of his co-worker, Christine (Jodie Comer). But unlike many other teenage boys, Morrissey's fantasies don't involve the ladies, they involve being the frontman of his own group. Further inspired upon seeing the legendary Sex Pistols in action at Manchester's Lesser Free Trade Hall (a show attended by members of the Buzzcocks, Joy Division, and The Fall) Morrissey answers the want-ad of future Cult guitarist, Billy Duffy (Adam Lawrence), and forms The Nosebleeds, a punk rock band who are quickly noticed by some industry types who dig their sound.

    Convinced that he's hit the big time with offers to move to London and record songs for a real-life record label, Morrissey is content to shove his success in his boss' face when given an ultimatum between gainful employment and pipe dreams of musical stardom. But his dreams are dashed to pieces when Billy rings him up to inform him that the label is only interested in the young guitarist. Of course, Billy does have a friend named Johnny Marr who seems interested in doing something...

    To anyone who hasn't been living in a cave for the last 40 years, the story of Morrissey and Johnny Marr, who went on to form the highly influential band The Smiths, is a familiar one. With a well-publicized breakup, a few books, and successful solo careers, the trajectory of the two bandmates is largely common knowledge. England Is Mine attempts to focus not on the triumphs; perhaps because this is essentially, "unauthorized" in every possible way; and takes the viewer through the looking glass into the life of Morrissey The Tortured Teenager, and does a fine job of it.

    Sure, fans of The Smiths and of Morrissey who know a whole lot more than I do about the subject (not hard, I've never been a fan of either) will likely nitpick and grump and sneer and growl over inaccuracies and timelines and so on and so forth, but England Is Mine does a number of things right, and that has to count for something. First off, the cast for this is grand, just grand. Lowden and Lawrence are engaging as Morrissey and Duffy, and it's hard not to get caught up in the enthusiasm of Laurie Kynaston's Marr. As minimal as it is, Director Mark Gill's camera follows the characters around the bleak existence that passes for 70's Manchester, and somehow, by utilizing the songs that Morrissey would likely have listened to, the film makers have skirted the whole, "I have no access to The Smiths Catalogue" issue.

    Really, the only thing that the film does that I'm not a fan of, is humanize the hell out of a young Morrissey, to the point where, unauthorized or not, I'm inclined to listen to The Smiths with a more sympathetic set of ears; even if it's still a long line that connects an early Pistols gig to the droning mopiness that is Bigmouth Strikes Again.

    England Is Mine - DVD Review:

    Umbrella brings England is Mind to DVD in a Region 4, 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer that looks pretty damn good. Honestly, it's so hard to qualify an opinion on the quality of DVD when checking it out on the giant flatscreens of this day and age, but the transfer is solid with good detail, no dirt or debris, and a lack of compression issues.

    A Dolby Digital 5.1 English track offers up some nice atmosphere and soundtrack with dialogue presented front and centre, with good dynamic range and no pops, hiss, or distortion. No subtitles are available.

    If you're looking for extras, you've come to the wrong place; England Is Mine doesn't even feature a menu.

    England Is Mine - The Final Word:

    It's kind of nicey-nice, and in this world of fully authorized powerhouse biopics like Bohemian Rhapsody, falls a little short without a severe injection of The Smiths in the soundtrack. Still, England Is Mine is an enjoyable watch, even if it's more barebones than we've come to expect barebones to be.

    See Below For England Is Mine screen caps!