The story of British Singer/Songwriter Morrissey before he rose to fame with The Smiths. It’s the mid 1970’s and Steven Morrissey is a young man whose intelligence seems to be at odds with the world around him. His Father wants him to get a job, but he’s happy reviewing the music scene in his home town, and posting to the music magazines of the time. When the chance to write songs with a guitarist comes up it seems that everything is coming up Morrissey.
Honestly I don’t know that much about Morrissey, although my eldest brother has tried to make me listen to that dreary music, I have resisted. There is a movie in there somewhere I’m sure. I know he was in The Smiths, then on his own, and that Daffodils were used that time I watched him on TV here in Ireland. So going into England is mine I didn’t know what to expect, was it the rise to fame, was it going to be a series of performances, I didn’t know. Even if I knew the music it wouldn’t matter as England is Mine is a far better movie than the music of the man, that is my opinion and here is why.
No matter your feelings on the music the film depicts the depression that Steven goes through with a pin point accuracy that most other films that try to do so would explode with envy. I saw a lot of myself and a lot of creatives will do in the way that Steven saw his life. The family that want him to take a job that holds back the creative nature of his brain, the strict confines of the daily grind, and how it damages the soul. Jack Lowden plays Steven and gives everything to this subtle character that has the ability to turn words into emotions but who’s fragile depressive nature is reluctant to break out. Lowden is outstanding in this role.
The film doesn’t feature a rise to fame, it’s more about the misfires of his early life, and it plays wonderfully for those that don’t know, or care, about the music that he helped to create. His family life is explored with a deft hand and the script is witty when it has to be and in the next breath shows the dark places that his mind took him to.
As we travel through several years of Steven’s life we learn the motivations behind his behaviour, the background to his future career. The biggest problem that I had with this film though is that they repeat the same themes through the whole film about every twenty minutes. It’s like hammering home the same point time and time and time and time again. You feel that a richer story could have been placed into the story when the repetition was going on. More of the relationship with his Father which is a cardboard cut out of conflict that could have been from any other movie. Having the star of the under rated When Brendan met Trudy and I Went Down Peter McDonald as the father and not developing that story is a waste and I hate waste.
Fans of The Smiths and Morrissey will enjoy this story far more than I did. I loved the character study of a man who wanted more from his life rather than being a paper pusher in some cushy Civil Service job and trying to overcome his mental state to pursue the creative career. For me the lack of the finer points of some of the relationships that formed Steven which easily could have been developed stopped this film from having a higher mark, it could have easily been a 5/5 film. Still a great performance from the lead star and some very fine production values means you should check this film out.
Director: Mark Gill
Writers: Mark Gill, William Thacker
Stars: Jessica Brown Findlay, Jack Lowden, Jodie Comer & More…. See full cast & crew