England Is Mine is a biopic based on the early years of singer Morrissey (Jack Lowden) before he formed The Smiths in 1982 with Johnny Marr. Set in 1970s Manchester, Morrissey lives an ordinary and not particularly exciting life, detesting his generic nine to five office job. He refuses to conform to society and instead pursues a dream of rock ‘n’ roll stardom, spending every spare minute writing songs and performing in his bedroom. As we know now, this dream of Morrissey’s did materialise into a reality, however England Is Mine takes us back to the very beginning of his journey and explores a time when his future wasn’t so certain.
What you may learn from this film is that Morrissey’s personality is a lot like marmite. He’s not exactly the most likeable protagonist you may see in a film; his sense of humour is a bit like an acquired taste. Jack Lowden is fantastic at portraying his dark, sarcastic and witty humour. Although Morrissey may not be the most likeable he is still a very relatable character. Like him, most people have a dream. Many may even share the same dream of rock ‘n’ roll stardom and for this reason audiences are rooting for him. They can relate to the same feelings of wanting to pursue something greater and to the same feelings of disappointment when things don’t work out.
It’s great to see a strong female character in the form of Morrissey’s quirky friend Linder, and Jessica Brown Findlay is equally as great in her performance of her. As you may predict not everything goes to plan on Morrissey’s journey to success. We see him encounter several setbacks and disappointments. This brings an element of realism to the film, as it shows just how hard someone has to work to achieve an ambitious dream and how there’s no such thing as an overnight success.
After one particularly hard knock back, Morrissey falls into the grips of a dark depression. Lowden is excellent at portraying this stage of Morrissey’s life and tastefully gives the audience a real insight into how depression takes hold of someone’s life without being insulting towards real sufferers of depression. England Is Mine is in some ways quite inspirational, as watching Morrissey overcome his demons gives the encouragement that anyone else can do the same.
Just as Morrissey begins to achieve stardom the film comes to what feels like an abrupt end. England Is Mine does not portray how Morrissey actually went from singing songs in his bedroom to the big stage, only all the times it didn’t, only showing all his failed attempts. The actual success part of the story we fail to see. Ultimately, it feels like part of the story is missing and that there is no real ending to the film. It leaves the audience thinking, did he make it or not? It’s only because it is a biopic of a real person’s life that we know he did, if it were a fictional story then there would be no closure in the ending.
Despite this, England Is Mine is a good piece of filmmaking and worth watching if you’re a fan of Morrissey and The Smiths, it’s perhaps just not everyone’s cup of tea.
England Is Mine is available on DVD from 4th December.
Dir: Mark Gill
Prd: Baldwin Li
Scr: Mark Gill, William Thacker
Starring: Jack Lowden, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jodie Comer